I'm working on a short story right now. I originally wrote it in March, but it wasn't until a few weeks ago I was able to sit down and start the editing process.
On a whim, I asked my friend Robert to give me some feedback. Even though Robert is smart and a reader, he's not really an English dork like some of my other friends. But I wanted to see what a "normal" person would say about this story, so it was an advantage here.
Sometimes the criticism you get is really surprising. He told me that my story reminded him of Dorian Gray, which I've decided to take as a compliment. He mentioned that the language was antiquated, which totally surprised me. I'm not trying to write like that, but maybe all this time reading nineteenth century literature (I'm slowly working through Little Dorrit) is rubbing off on me.
The thing he said that I know I need to work on most is the characters. He said that he liked the hints about the characters that I gave within the story but that it's too hard to keep the characters straight. He has a point, and it's something that has I was trying to correct before I gave it to him in feedback. The story follows a young girl around who is struggling with various interpersonal relationships, and there are several relationships that have fallen apart/are about to fall apart, almost all in the exact same way and for the exact same reasons. So there has to be a far amount of characters, given the nature of the story. So now I'm trying to come up with a way to make it easier for the reader to follow along. I think I'm going to mention certain characters in passing earlier, and then maybe it won't feel so confusing to the reader.
Of course the feedback wasn't all bad. He said that he liked it and that the ending was well done and that the piece as a whole was dramatic and simple. So at least there's something good to work with.