No one had glaring problems with the structure or plot, although a few disliked the path I'd chosen to take, for ideological reasons (they have different opinions about feminism to those I do, obviously, but that's fine). There were a few quibbles with some cliches that had slipped in and stuff like that, but minor tweaking will fix those.
Perhaps the most interesting thing was that none of the workshop group really read fantasy, so a lot of them found the fantasy element of the story confronting--they just couldn't seem to understand how a story could be mainstream, mainstream, mainstream and then have a god in it :) But that kind of slipstream/urban-fantasy style of writing is what I love to read most; when it all seems real and then something wiggy starts to happen and no one is very surprised within the reality of the story. Mmmmm. Yep, presses my buttons. Can you say Neverwhere?
The strangest reaction was that they all seemed to have a problem with me writing a sequel to The Tempest, but none of them had *read* the play! I tried to dig and see what the problem actually was. I was worried they thought my story didn't work without some knowledge of The Tempest, but, no, they all seemed to agree that it mostly did. So I'm not sure what was at the heart of that. Maybe they just have a problem with re-working Shakespeare. Well, granted, it is pretty big-headed of me, to think that I can. But, hey, I write RPS, so there aren't a lot of fictional sacred spaces for me :)
The funniest reaction was when they accused me of being non-PC by writing Caliban as this ignorant black savage. And when I pointed out that at *no point*, not *once* do I ever describe the colour of Cal's skin, they all said, "yes you do," but then, of course, couldn't find a single place in which I did! Because I deliberately never did describe his race. So they were, in effect, accusing me of their own prejudiced reading! Heee. It's like that joke about the psychologist (where the patient complains that all the tests were designed by a sex-fiend, because that's all he sees in the random squiggles :)
Anyway, one way or another, the content seemed to have provoked strong reactions in the readers, which is a big success to my way of thinking (and as I was trying to provoke negative reactions, not positive ones, if they'd all loved it I would have been back to the bloody drawing board). And the techniques seem to have only got minor suggestions for smoothing, rather than diatribes about how talentless I am :)
So... yay!!!!! A few tweaks and the bloody thing is done!!!
Thank god. Because if I had to re-write the fucker one more time I would have gone utterly mad.