A little background: Air Pirates is written with two POVs--the main storyline in Hagai's perspective and backstory told in Sam's past. I've gotten all kinds of comments on this.
(For the record, ALL of my beta readers are awesome people who get it. Not a single jerk has read this novel. They just differed in their opinions of where it should go.)
- "I love the two storylines. It never gets boring."
- "I like both Sam and Hagai, but switching back and forth like this is hard. What if you took out Sam's story and made it it's own novel, like a prequel?"
- "Sam is awesome, but I thought Hagai was annoying. Can it just be about Sam?"
- "I LOVE Hagai, but Sam is too much. Can it just be about Hagai?"
If I were to follow this advice, I would simultaneously have to: (1) remove Hagai's story, (2) remove Sam's story, (3) write a novel each for Hagai and Sam, and (4) change nothing.
You can see where that might be difficult.
But the purpose of critiques is not to fix the novel for you. Critiques give you an idea of how people are responding to your novel. It's up to you how you address that. To the tips!
- FOLLOW YOUR GUT. You know your story best, and you can usually tell which comments resonate with you and which don't. When it was suggested I split the novel in two, I debated it a lot, but ultimately decided it would turn the story into something I didn't want to write. That freed me to focus on what I would change.
- LOOK AT THE ROOT OF THE COMMENT. Even though their advice was contradictory, all of my beta readers were correct. I just had to go deeper than the advice and look at the reason behind it. Hagai was annoying sometimes, and Sam was sometimes too much, but removing one or the other as a main character wasn't an answer I liked. Knowing the root cause, however, I could fix the real issue: make Hagai more proactive; make Sam less of a Mary Sue.
- LOOK FOR THE TRUTH IN EVERY COMMENT. So I ignored the suggestion of splitting the novel in two, but did I ignore the comment entirely? Heck, no. There was something that reader didn't like about switching back and forth, and it was my job to figure out what it was. Realizing that made me take a cold, hard look at both storylines to figure out what made "switching" difficult for some people. I shortened some chapters, deleted others, and focused the tension so each storyline could stand on its own, resulting in a far less boring story overall.
What do you do when critics disagree?