Ragnar and Pixar say trust yourself as a writer. Write what you want to read. Trends come and go. It really has been working awesomely for Pixar. They’ve ditched formula and come up with some incredible stories. When it comes down to it, I think a formula is no good if there’s no heart within it.
I think writers also need to trust themselves when dealing with betas. Ragnar had a fantastic post on this but of course I can’t find it. The general idea is that you’ll have one person say you need more circles, one person say you need more squares, and a third person saying you need more staplers. The contradictory responses are fodder for head explodey. It’s up to you to look at your work, see what you agree with, respect what you disagree with, and maybe find out that all you really needed was one octogon.
I’ve cut my first novel from 180,000 words to 85,000 words. I’m starting to worry that the heart has been cut out of it. I still have the 180K version around with the hope that I can get it electronically published as a director’s cut. The transition has made some massive improvements but there have been some painful casualties.
I continue to cut and rework the book with my slew of betas but there are some things I’m not compromising on. I’m not going to delete any more characters. If it’s just too complicated to be published, you know, I’m okay with that. I’ve got a hundred other stories in me, I can craft one of those to be more publishable from step one.