Over the past few weeks, I've been thinking about feedback that I've gotten on my pieces and feedback I've seen others receive. If you're a relatively new writer, or at least new to getting critiques, it can be difficult to receive critiques with grace. What's even more difficult is figuring out if what you've gotten back is useful. Here's how I evaluate my feedback to decide what advice and suggestions to keep, and what to discard.
1) Is this person in my target audience?
Your target audience is a rough approximation of the demographic that you see being a fan of your work. Whether it's YA, something geared more for baby boomers, whatever, you should have a pretty good idea about who this is by the time you're getting feedback, if not before you start writing. If they are in your target audience, give their suggestions greater weight.
2) Is this person a fan of other works in this genre?
This goes along the same lines as above. If they are fans of hard SF and that's what you're shooting for, pay special attention to what they have to say.
3) How much writing experience does this person have?
This goes more along the technical side, but if they have been writing for several years, they might have more insight to offer as far as plot fixes.
4) If you've read anything that this person has written, are you a fan of their work?
This one you might be able to take or leave. Just because a person doesn't write something you would pay money for doesn't mean they won't have good insight for your story. However, I would take what they say with a grain of salt. Often times, (I find myself doing this) a critiquer will read a piece through the lens of their own style, so keep that in mind when you read their feedback.
5) What is this person's background outside of writing?
Maybe they don't like to read the genre that your story falls into, but they have kids, so they spend lots of time with tiny people in the two to seven years old. If your story has kids in it in that range, listen to their feedback! Or maybe they're in the medical field, or law enforcement, or the IT world. If they have insight on something and they're offering to share that with your story, take it!
So, what if, at the end of the day, the answer to one or more of these questions is "yes" and you still don't like the feedback you are getting? You don't ever have to change your story. If multiple people have problems with the same character or turn of events in your story, you should consider their feedback. But remember that this is your story. You know what kind of story you want it to be. Your opinion is the one that is the most important.