How a Social Media Challenge Has Helped Me with Novel Revisions

Wednesday, October 26, 2022


November is National Novel Writing Month, and I usually like to plan a project since I’m a writer who needs accountability. I saw a graphic created by NaNoWriMo on Instagram with a challenge for the month of October and decided to participate. Each day during October writers are given a prompt and encouraged to share a photo inspired by the prompt, along with the hashtag #instawrimo2022. While there have been some days I had no idea what the prompt meant or what I should share by way of a graphic, I came to the realization that the challenge has helped me as I’m working on revisions for my young novel adult novel that will tentatively be released early next year. 

One of the prompts had us share a writing playlist. This made me remember I had created one specific to the novel several years back, so I dug it out and created a graphic with five of the songs. This put me in the right frame of mind when looking at the opening chapters, and I knew I had to do something to slow down the story in the beginning. The prompt asking us to share our story’s villain made me realize my villain is not a person, but rather, the concept of time. 

Another prompt had us write a dream blurb for our book, and this helped me come up with a tight logline. Yesterday’s prompt asked us “what’s in your main character’s pocket?” My main character is a young man who is a senior in high school, so what else would he have in his pocket but a phone? But wait . . . I first began writing this novel more than 10 years ago, well before the explosion of social media as it stands today. I knew then that there was a void throughout the book in terms of social media use. I scribbled down notes on how to weave in social media reactions to the inciting incident of the novel. 

Besides sharing cute photos of our “writing pets and plants” and favorite writing quotes, I believe these prompts are helping me make connections and additions to my novel I wouldn’t have considered before. For example, I recently watched a very harrowing documentary about a celebrity who has been accused of sexually abusing several children. The accusations have divided the public on whether or not the celebrity is guilty, mostly because the victims did not admit the abuse until they were grown adults. It took me several days to process what I had learned, but then it hit me as I was working on this Instagram challenge. My main character is a victim of sexual abuse, and the documentary I watched laid out the grooming process of an abuser step by step. Now I’m considering adding in a fictitious documentary into my story, because it can be something the main characters watch and learn from (and discuss on social media, divided opinions and all). It also ties in the grooming process with the shame victims often feel. 

There are only a few days left of this social media challenge, and I’m happy with the way it’s helped me brainstorm, navigate revisions, and prep for November. Happy Writing! 

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer who also produces the true crime podcast, Missing in the Carolinas.


Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Anything that helps you dig deeper into your story is a win! Can't wait to see what you've done.

Angela Mackintosh said...

This makes me wish I had Insta! Oooh, I love the playlist prompt, and I already have a noir music playlist for my NaNo project, which is a bunch of essays and short stories this year. I love that your villain is time! Time is also the villain in the first CNF I'm writing for NaNo. That and body image, intimacy, and a fellow therapy patient. Are you doing NaNo this year?

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