The group gives the piece a B+ for the beautiful language. They call the structure and the pacing poor and give both elements of the story a D.
She starts off with two different beginnings. Her desire is to give readers the choice to pick which beginning they like the best. Instead, the beginning comes off as distancing and confusing and self-conscious. Rather than slip into the action of the story, the reader reads the words that form into sentences and then paragraphs and chapters, all tedious and drowning in details and making the story off-putting.
Some critique members quit reading before reaching even the middle of the story. Others read out of respect. Those who continue reading finally find themselves truly committing to the story at the halfway mark.
What do I do? wails the writer.
It all comes back to what does the character want?
You don't know what she wants? Ask the writers in critique group. They know what she wants.
What is she willing to do to achieve what she wants. What stands in her way of success?
Push aside the words and analyze the energy of the story.
The stronger the pressure (antagonists) is against her, the greater the strength the protagonist gains when she confronts and overcomes that force. The greater the force is against her, the bigger the change in her direction toward her ultimate goal. The more dramatic the change in direction, the greater excitement and anticipation in the reader and audience.
To familiarize yourself with the Universal Story and the basic plot terms in the above blog post:
1) Read The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master (Now also as a Kindle edition)
2) Watch the Plot Series: How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay? on YouTube. A directory of all the steps to the series is to the right of this post. 27-step tutorial on Youtube
3 Watch the Monday Morning Plot Book Group Series on YouTube. A directory the book examples and plot elements discussed is to the left of this post.