Wrestling with a story. Originally, it was a 1000 word story for the Wordos Halloween reading. When I was first writing it, I realized that my point-of-view character was a whiny teen complaining about how unfair their life was, and I didn't want to write the equivalent of magical teen princess complains about her life. So I switched the POV to an older, mentoring cousin. This seemed to work.
I liked the story enough to submit a slightly longer version, 1900 words, to Wordos for critique. Folks seemed to like it, but wanted some more information and a cool description of a ritual that happened before the story started presented on stage. I incorporated those changes and submitted it to a second group, with a word count of 2300, but, alas, the story is now driving to the plot because of addition of the information and ritual, and they think the story should be written from the POV of the whiny teen.
I'm thinking some of the way this story worked the earlier incarnations was partially due to the fact that I read it aloud, and my Radio Voice hypnotized Wordos (but not the second group) into liking the submitted draft later.
Although both groups wanted clearer and higher stakes (darn, I thought I got that), I think the most useful critique so far has been the observation that if the story wants to be a coming of age story, use the teen's POV, but if it wants to be a fixing a failed mentor-student story, use the adult's POV.
When stories don't work, I'm slightly perplexed and frustrated that the translation process from my head to paper to the readers' heads didn't work. I often have difficulty finding the sweet spot between assuming knowledge on the readers' part and over-explaining. Also, the world-building and eye-candy is what I like to write, which seems to mean that my characters are underdeveloped. (In my head I can hear K.D. Wentworth's voice saying, "women like to write about relationships and guys like to write about spaceships and submarines.")
I suppose this is a reminder to read my Notes on Critique on a regular basis.