Been seeing a fair number of submissions lately in which Something Mysterious Is Going On--and by two-thirds of the way through the story, there's still been no clue at all of what's happening. It's still just a string of random and arbitrary-seeming events, and the protagonist is at least as bewildered as they were at the start.
I imagine there are plenty of examples of good stories and movies that have this structure, but it doesn't really work for me, at least not the way these submissions are doing it. I want to have something to hold onto. Mystery can be great; it can build tension. But if, after the halfway point of the story, all I'm seeing is mystery, just one unexplained event after another, I get bored. I skim ahead to find out what the answer to the mystery is.
It doesn't help that in a lot of these cases, the answer doesn't provide enough of a payoff for me. But that's also partly because of the structure. If you don't give the reader any clues for two-thirds of the story, then the payoff has to be really strong to make them feel it was worth their time to have read that far.
Another attribute that such stories often have is that it's only the protagonist who has no idea what's going on. Some or all of the people around the protagonist know everything about what's going on, and the protagonist often asks them over and over to explain it, and they decline. Which increases my frustration with the story--it seems increasingly contrived, a device to keep the reader in the dark.
I think that in essence this kind of story structure is pretty similar to the surprise-twist-ending approach: in both cases, the primary focus of the story is on hiding information from the reader. Sure, plot is revelation management, most stories hide something from the reader, but in most stories there are other sources of reader pleasure in addition to that of awareness of a mystery.
I suppose for readers who like being confused, a series of mysterious events is probably enough to keep them interested. But I'm not such a reader.
(Written in March but I didn't get around to posting it 'til now.)