“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.” — Neil Gaiman
Well, I think we can end the piece there. It came from Neil Gaiman. That’s about all you need.
They cover this at length on the Writing Excuses podcast, this concept King Gaiman is talking about. It’s mostly a philosophy on approaching peer feedback, especially in writing groups. You know, those turbulent things. If you share a draft/manuscript with your peers, make sure to pay close attention to how they feel about certain scenes, characters, or developments. They are emulating your audience, after all, so their opinions are important if you wish to cultivate a wholesome and successful story. When they tell you something is wrong, they are speaking from the gut, and the gut is hardly ever incorrect in these situations. But they are not the author, they are not you and thus do not best understand the story as a whole. Once they begin to provide specific advice, tread with caution. If it is from one who is far more travelled in the craft than yourself, then it might be worth your attention, but do not let every passing comment or opinion mold your story. People will want different things from what they consume, do not form your story to fit the exact requirements of their subjective taste.
It’s your story. Love it and nourish it, so others may love it, too. Just don’t let them steer you around, because they probably don’t know better than you about your universe and characters. In turn, don’t reverse the role as that would only perpetuate the problem.
Again, I must reiterate. This is Neil Gaiman. The man knows what he’s talking about.
(Photo credit to Loundraw from Deviantart.)