Maggie, Marissa, and the Toothpaste Conundrum: Notes from the YA: Legends Revisited Panel Part 2


Here is the continuation of Part 1 of the Boston Book Festival’s YA discussion with Marissa Meyer, Cinder and Scarlet,  Maggie Stiefvater, Raven Boys and ShiverNancy Werlin, Unthinkable and Impossible, and Shelly Dickson Carr, Ripped.

Critique Partners

When they were asked about critique partners, each had a different answer. Marissa has three beta readers that she found while writing Sailor Moon fan fiction. She relies on them to help with revisions. Shelly recommended writing/critique groups. Nancy has 15 critique partners (wow, not sure I could handle that many). She noted that she won’t change something if only one reader calls out a problem, but if 2 or more smart readers identify the same issue, it indicates something wrong. She also said that using a professional editor can be extremely helpful. Maggie tried critique groups, but found that they wanted to change her story and the critiques weren’t helpful. She went through a process to find 2 online critique partners that liked similar books and who she could trust not to change her story. (Having been in a few failed critique groups, I found this approach appealing).

How much do you write a day?

Marissa writes 1,000 words a day. Sometimes she has hit 10,000 words in one day. Maggie doesn’t count words, but said that she wrote 4 books this year.

What was their favorite fairy tale as a kid?

Maggie’s was Scottish water horse fairy tales. Nancy enjoyed Anderson’s fairy tales. Shelly liked the Little Match Girl and Marissa loved Sleeping Beauty.

How do you start writing your books?

Shelly was adamant that to write a mystery or suspense you need to plot everything out. Nancy, who writes fantasy and suspense, disagreed and just plunges in. She likened it to making a snowman, which got a few laughs as Maggie challenged her on the physics of making the head of the snowman first instead of the base (I didn’t get it either, but it was a fun discussion). Marissa starts with a concept and writes a 5-6 page outline before she starts. Before she begins, Maggie asks herself, “what kind of book do I want to live with for the rest of the year” (interesting answer and something think about).


Marissa is a huge advocate of NANIWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) and wrote her three Lunar Chronicles books during NANIWRIMO. She felt it can get you motivated to write your book. She also said that she would be offering a surprise to anyone that participated next month. I not going to steal Marissa’s thunder so keep an eye on her blog for details.

For Maggie she didn’t see the need for it. If you’re a story teller, then you will be writing every day and won’t need a onetime motivation. Besides, she said, “It’s over Thanksgiving! Why would they do that to you?” (Ha!) She did say that she has time management posts on her website for those struggling with writing daily and getting their novels finished. One final thought from Maggie that resonated with me was about finishing novels. Early on, Maggie had written some 40+ stories, but hadn’t finished them. (Guilty!) She overcame this by figuring out the ending of the story.

That’s it. Great advice from some great authors. Enjoy!!!!


4 thoughts on “Maggie, Marissa, and the Toothpaste Conundrum: Notes from the YA: Legends Revisited Panel Part 2

  1. Wow, thanks for the break down. I particularly love anything that comes out of Maggie’s mouth! Awesome, awesome author. Someday I will hear her live. I will! =)

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