Imagine: this is 2014. Zane has yet to leave One Direction, Vine is still kicking, and “Shake It Off” Taylor Swift is constantly on the radio. However, I just got back from school and look forward to unlocking my fourth-generation iPod touch and opening the Wattpad app to see if a new section of my favorite story has been downloaded. (Despite some previous exaggeration to set the mood, part of the iPod is true – my mom wouldn’t let me get a phone until I was 13.)
If you’re unfamiliar with Wattpad, you’re either living under a rock or probably an ordinary person. If you, like me, and at 12 were crazy about bands and desperate to get a Tumblr-style high school experience, you understand this phenomenon.
Wattpad is a free and highly interactive online reading and writing platform that creates a community between content creators and readers. Users can interact directly with the creators by commenting on the story, and in turn, the creators receive immediate feedback, section by section, and are encouraged to continue writing. It is every reader’s dream to discuss the subtleties of the story, the motivations of the characters and the development of the plot with the authors of their favorite books. With Wattpad this dream is possible.
At a young age Wattpad strengthened my love of reading and writing. I swallowed whole stories in one night and I remember the rush of excitement I felt when the creator downloaded a new chapter of the story. Wattpad was for me the same as Instagram or Twitter – I would check it out as if it were any other social networking platform.
Except that Wattpad is not like other social networking platforms. Users are not required to disclose their real names or personal information if they do not wish to do so. For some, anonymity is appealing. Creators are free to express themselves regardless of race, gender or socio-economic background. With the many genres available there is a story for everyone, be it fantasy, science fiction or the very popular werewolf. yes Werewolves it’s your genre. I was drawn to teenage fiction, a testament to my current literary taste, and of course fan fiction.
Like most people in 2014, I was obsessed with One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer, but was also in love (with a capital letter) with R5. Again, if you’re unfamiliar with the R5, you’re probably just an ordinary person who hasn’t watched Disney Channel until you were too old. R5 was a pop-rock band that consisted of Ross Lynch, his three siblings and their family member (Lynch and his brother now make up The Driver Era). They gained popularity after Lynch starred in the Disney Channel series “Austin and Ellie”. As an enthusiastic fan, I went to two of their concerts when they arrived in Detroit, had on the walls of my bedroom all their posters imaginable, and so, wrote about their fan fiction, which fortunately was removed. Fan fiction was not the only thing that was brewing in my head. I often rode in the car and did storylines about my life that I could somehow incorporate into fictional stories. Or I just dreamed of stories that could one day come to life. I certainly benefited from the anonymity of it all. It’s awkward looking back and realizing the quality of content that 12- and 13-year-olds have been teaching for the internet and two of my best friends at the time. However, Wattpad has been a form of escapism and I am always grateful for that.
I’ve only had a positive experience with Wattpad, but I can’t say the same for everyone. I can’t even imagine the difficulties faced by those whose stories were not perceived. It takes a lot of courage to share your work with others. Writing in itself is such a vulnerable thing, and honestly, people on the internet who have nothing better than to hate and read something can be tough. However, the harmful effects of Wattpad are not solely a negative reaction to the creator’s story. Sometimes stories have mature themes or explicit content that are not intended to be read by young users. The age for Wattpad – 13 yearsalthough I definitely used a fake birthday when I first created my account. If I were that smart, I’m sure others would too. According to Wattpad Content Rules, stories rated “Adult” may contain sexual content, displays of self-harm, suicide, and eating disorders or explicit violence. Even if adult stories are intended for users over the age of 17, there is no way to control the distribution of these stories because the creators are responsible for tagging their adult stories, not Wattpad.
But to be honest, Wattpad is generally very successful despite this and perhaps because of it. From above 90 million users, not surprisingly, the program and website have remained popular for years. Wattpad financially supports creators through inclusion Paid stories (This requires coins that are purchased through an Apple or Google account and allow users to unlock entire stories or individual sections at once). Like most apps, Wattpad includes ads between stories to stay afloat. It also has subscriptions like Wattpad Premiumto improve the reader experience without interruption of advertising. The goal of Wattpad has always been to support creators and their creativity. З writing competitions and an annual awards program, Cotton woolWattpad also tunes creators to success on the platform and beyond.
Some stories are picked up by traditional publishers and turned into printed books, such as Beth Rickles’ “Kissing Booth”, Anna Todd’s “After” and “My Life with Walter’s Boys” by Ali Novak (of which I have very vivid memories of standing in Barnes and Noble and asked my mother to buy me). If the authors are lucky, the book will be adapted into a Netflix movie or shown in theaters near you. In addition, Wattpad Publishing, Books wattpadtakes stories originally posted on a writing platform, and publishes them in traditional print.
One of the notable works published by Wattpad Books is “Float,” a modern adult novel by Kate Marchant that is due out February 22nd. 26 million readings and is currently in the process of shooting the elderly the movie starring Robbie Amel (“Code 8”) and Andrea Bang (“Little Wealth”).
“Float” tells the story of 17-year-old Waverley, who was just sent to Florida from Alaska to stay with her aunt – as a result of her parents’ indecision about who to spend the summer with. When Waverley first arrives, she meets Blake, an attractive boy next door. He graciously takes her under his wing, introducing her to his friends and teaching her to swim. Summer unfolds and she spends her days working at a local bookstore, battling the ocean and drooling on Blake. Waverley realizes she doesn’t want her summer or her new life to end.
The premise is a bit youthful, but aren’t all adult novels? I will say straight, yes, but it lacks nuances. In “Flood” the inconsistency of the title plot, around which the story should revolve, left a bad impression on me. Blake volunteered to teach Waverly to swim, but she only needed two lessons. I only guess because the page is all we see. Similarly, Waverley lies to his new friends that he can’t swim. She’s 17, and that could be seen as awkward – I understand. After all, her lie has no real consequences; her friendships remain intact even if she cannot swim. But the meaningless nature of the story – that’s what came to me. Waverly and Blake’s romantic attempts (or lack thereof) are unsatisfactory, and the only reason Waverly likes Blake is because he is usually attractive, or, in the words of Wattpad Books, “built like a Greek god.” Otherwise he is often rude to Waverley for no reason – he has his problems – and he treats her like a child during their swimming lessons. Not to mention that Waverly herself is a one-dimensional character because her excessive self-deprecation leaves little room for any character growth. She will learn nothing at the end of the story, which again did not satisfy me.
I read “Float” when it was originally on Wattpad, and I really enjoyed it, so rereading was very nostalgic. I will reread other books that I enjoyed in my youth, and most of them still hold up, in part because nostalgia makes me love them even more. My favorite modern novels for young adults pass by the superficial and sink into the real anxiety that comes with a teenager. The “float” is simply absorbed into the surface. Of course, he explores the themes of friendship and family-based, but with very minimal emotional impact. I believe that time or traditional publication has not improved history.
Let’s just say that “Float” didn’t open up new landmarks, but I had very low expectations given that this is a reformed Wattpad story. Part of the credibility and authenticity of Wattpad stories is often questioned. With stories like “The Bad Boy Stole My Bra” and “The Bad Boy Girl,” it’s hard not to judge the story by its title. I like to think that the existence of Wattpad has created a new brand of writing because I often say “it reads like the story of Wattpad” when I read certain books, especially modern novels by young adults. More often than not I mean quality writing. Usually this lacks style or is simple enough to make me believe that the author of the story is indeed a 12-year-old girl. Some stories are stereotyped. No sense in telling you now – I don’t wanna ruin the suprise. Other stories overuse storylines that rely too heavily on school stereotypes (e.g., athlete, popular girl, botanist). Such stories are pleasant, but only up to a point. Or maybe some stories are so bad that they are good.
At the age of 12 Wattpad kept me in the shower. Although no one needed the R5 fanfiction, for me Wattpad was an escape from high school turbulence and a place of self-expression. I’m sure others who grew up with the platform understand. Theoretically, Wattpad seems great. This is creating an online reading community, and many creators have succeeded both on the platform and beyond. At the same time, Wattpad sets such low standards for its stories that readers are left to praise mediocre writing. In turn, traditionally published books, especially fiction for young people, drown in patterned and reworked storylines. “Float” is just one example of a vague contemporary who became the next great novel for adults. If Wattpad remains the voice of the younger generation, then those responsible for the platform should be responsible for the quality of the content they promote.
Wattpad is far from perfect and should not be closed to criticism, given that it can not only reach millions of people, but also affect the quality of writing that future authors seek to have. Do we really need another “After” in the New York Times bestseller list?
You can contact everyday art writer Ava Siman at email@example.com.