At a recent gathering of the Shelton College Review, three colleagues happened to be writing the pivotal scenes in their novels at the same time. When submitted to the Review for critique, each scene fell short of the author’s desired emotional affect.
In each case, the advice was the same: Take your time. Let the scene develop. Give the reader the nuances of what’s happening, both in the external environment, but more importantly, in what the characters are thinking and feeling. The subsequent revisions proved the advice correct.
As the author, you’ve been building up to this moment for the entire book. You feel it before you even write the scene. The temptation is to get right to the pivotal moment. But the reader is probably not quite there yet and probably needs a little more time to catch up. Slow down and embellish. Let the reader steep in the moment and soak in the importance of what’s happening. If you do, you’ll have a stronger emotional connection.