Got the critique back from my writer's group, and I was none too nervous about it. After all, it was the first time anyone truly objective (other than my agent) has read the entire MS. By and large, it was well-received and enthusiastically praised. A big "whew" there.
Several people did have significant bones to pick with it, and rarely were they the same bone, so it will be tough to pick and choose what I should address. Some parts I had always had misgivings about were confirmed--the misgivings were justified. Those will be the easy parts to fix/remove. Other parts I was totally in love with were also called into question--not so easy. I've heard people say "cut out the thing you love most" and "without fail, you will end up throwing out your first chapter." Needless to say, neither of those two pieces of advice are particularly uplifting, particularly now, as I face the first chapter of my next novel.
But I'll have to say, both of them have come to pass. I threw out a scene long ago that I loved for comedic purposes, but it did nothing to further the story. And regarding my first chapter, it's been cut by about 75%, so it basically has been "thrown out." One final sub-plot, and what I was leaning on as the protagonist's motivation throughout the book, was deemed unnecessary.
Secretly, I was wondering if I could dial back on this or take it out altogether, but feared the rest of the book collapsing in on itself. "If the hero doesn't feel A, then why on earth would he do B?" kind of stuff. My group steered me out of what looked like a dead-end street, at least in theory. Now comes the re-write.
The good news is I'll undoubtedly reduce my word count--never a bad thing. The bad news is, once again, the novel's not "done." Anything to stall jumping into the next one!