A little while ago, INTERN posted about a fictitious Character Transformation Bazooka which could make characters have deep realisations and catharses instantly, with no justification.
There are a few other weapons of mass manuscript destruction (WMMD) in the arsenal.
One is the Triumph Bomb, or T-Bomb.
If you go see just about any movie that's playing in a mainstream theatre, there's bound to be at least one scene involving a Moment of Triumph: the submarine crew realizes they've fixed their leaking vessel just in time (hugs, shouts, and meaningful apologies ensue) or a pair of starcrossed mental defectives realizes they're meant for each other and triumphantly race to the nearest marriage office.
These moments of triumph usually happen after about ninety minutes of false starts, dissapointments, and disasters.
One comment INTERN finds herself writing frequently in novel critiques is that the moments of triumph in the story come too soon, or make no sense, or seem to drop out of the sky with nothing to warn their approach but a faint whistle on the breeze. There haven't been enough obstacles or disasters to make the triumph meaningful—or the stakes were too low for anyone to care.
T-bombs are especially rampant in manuscripts that involve the following:
-battles (literal battles. like, with axes and longswords).
-stories with quirky mysteries (particularly in YA and MG books)
-stories about overcoming bullies (particularly in YA and MG)
-characters with diseases
-stories involving sports
Actually, it is possible to drop a T-bomb in just about any kind of novel.
INTERN has been doing a lot of research into this triumph thing, and has found that really effective triumphs in novels happen only after one or a few of the following have happened in the story:
-a character has had to sacrifice something
-a character has had to make a high-stakes choice or moral decision
-a character has tried several other options and failed
-a character has suffered a hard loss or injury over the course of struggling towards a particular goal
-a character has, indeed, been struggling in some way, not floating along easily.
-a character has been forced to change significantly
-a character has undergone real trials and conflicts pertaining to the goal
If none of these things have happened, but your characters are still smiling weepily and holding each other while Chariots of Fire plays in the background, they're probably the victims of a T-Bomb. Edit at will!
INTERN is heading out for an extended Thanksgiving visit with her family, so she will be away for the next week. Have courage, revisioneers, and good luck!