Has everyone seen one of those kids' movies about a [soccer/baseball/hockey] team made up of clumsy misfits with mouth guards and runny noses whose [bitter/resentful/hard-ass] coach reluctantly (then enthusiastically at the key moment) leads them to victory over the [snobby/evil/orc-like] rival team the Blood Jaguars? It seems to INTERN that every one of those movies has the exact same scene at the end with everybody high-fiving and the runtiest kid and the reformed bully practically make love to other through six layers of scrappy, home-made uniform. Hollywood got the memo about character transformation, and they got it big time.
INTERN sees a lot of manuscripts (particularly YA) where the high-fiving, back-slapping scene is present, and the bully hugs the runt and the hard-ass coach finally tells his son he loves him and the prissy league official takes off her librarian wig to reveal ten feet of luscious blond hair...but there hasn't been any kind of build-up to account for these transformations. Like, none whatsoever.
It's like the writer was sitting there, drinking a martini and typing away happily, when all of a sudden somebody rang a bell and said "Simon says TRANSFORM CHARACTERS!"
Then the writer was like, "Oh sh**&$S*###!" and whipped out her Transformation Bazooka and started firing at will. Bam! Mean character becomes nice. Bam! Frumpy character becomes a sex god. Bam! Bitter character stares into the sunset for two seconds and has a life-changing revelation.
The reader is left in the rubble, surrounded by unrecognizable characters who have no apparent reason for their sudden transformations.
Just like you can stick your Conflict Toothpick into your manuscript, you should be able to stick in a Transformation Toothpick to make sure your characters are really having their worldviews challenged enough to account for change.
If we stick our toothpick into the first ten minutes of a Kids' Sports Movie, we see the bully terrorizing the runt. If we test again twenty minutes later, we see the bully witnessing the runt being terrorized again by his own father. Twenty minutes later, the runt helps the bully cheat on a test. When they get caught, the bully has to make a moral decision that might see one of them thrown off the team...and yadda yadda. At several points in the movie, the bully's view of the world is challenged, and a series of crises pushes him to the point of real transformation. Transformation doesn't just splash over him like a paintball hit.
Any of the following on their own are insufficient justification for Change:
-a character staring into sunset/sunrise/great whirling cosmos and spontaneously having a Deep Thought That Changes Everything.
-a character saying any variation upon "No, Sparky. This time we're going to kick *their* asses!"
-a character doing something out of character, then accounting for it by ways of a lengthy speech explaining how, exactly, he had a change of heart (if the transformation isn't justified by showing, no amount of telling will ever be convincing).
You don't win the Regional Team Sport Championships of the soul without breaking a few bones along the way.
Techie Boyfriend just made INTERN a cup of coffee with a shot of espresso in it, so she is off to go jitter somewhere stimulating. Hurrah!