This is just a quick post – I will get into tips for writing critique more deeply at a later time when I’m not in the middle of writing a scene on the new work-in-progress.
Don’t treat all feedback equally.
Asking your mom what she thinks about your writing (assuming she’s not the target demographic for your work) will most likely elicit generous and uncritical praise – unless you have a toxic relationship with her. Write about that, next time!
The same goes for other people who aren’t your mother. If they aren’t your target readers, then don’t expect them to provide constructive and meaningful feedback about your genre-specific work. Yes, they may be excellent readers for typos – those are called proofreaders. Proofreaders will not see the big picture of story arcs and character development. Save their specialized nit-picking for later once you’re polishing for publication.
I am not advising you to dismiss all feedback. You may hear nuggets of insight about your writing generally. If you hear from multiple people that they don’t understand a description of something, or they’re confused by shifts in perspective, take those to heart, regardless of whether those readers are your targets or not. It doesn’t take a heart surgeon to recognize a bullet wound in the chest.
But to elicit feedback useful to you within your particular genre, first make sure you’re testing with the right readers. You want “qualified” readers – readers who know and love the genre in which you write.
Ask your beta-readers, your writing group, and your editors what they read. If they happen to hate the genre in which you write or they don’t “read much of anything”, you’re going to get the wrong kind of feedback.