Ever suddenly discover a random fact about yourself and then realize, hey, this is my guilty pleasure? Well I found mine. I like to read book reviews. The five stars. The three stars. The sad lonely one stars.
It began several years ago when I started reading e-books. The seeds were planted in my brain to explore self-publishing as I was already writing at this time. I was curious about other books. Mostly the process it took to produce a book, the content available that people were writing and more importantly, what was interesting the public.
One review led to two. Two reviews led to four and before I knew it I was craving more! Terrible rhyme, but you get my point. My mini addiction morphed into a learning tool. I started to notice the reoccurring topics many reviewers praised or criticized within stories.
Fast forward to today. By now you’ve heard I am hoping to self-pub my first novel in the winter. Currently my manuscript is with professional editors and they are sharpening their power saws, I mean pens, ready to hack the hell out of my novel in the most loving way (in all seriousness they’re awesome and so patient! Thank you Becky, Donna, Cara, Barbara and Virginia!). What I have learned since working with them is pretty priceless information.
I’ve learned to read as a writer and write as a reader.
The development of this skill is not only because I trolled the internet for book reviews, but because I had two great beta readers who helped point out reader issues in my writing. Not just any issues. Oh no, suddenly I was noticing minute details that weren’t highlighted when I was writing over at the mother hub in writing space, Wattpad. It got me thinking about the site and the kinds of stories I’ve read in the span of time since I’ve been a part of that community.
I love Wattpad. I truly do. When I learned how to navigate the site, I understood the benefits and resources the writing social network can provide. I urge anyone who is a closet writer or hobby writer to join Wattpad because it will truly change your thinking. Buuuuttt (we all knew it was coming), developing a Wattpad writing style can backfire for the mainstream.
What do I mean?
Let’s say we’re a driving a car. We’ll name it Plot. You receive directions at Chapter One. You’re told to drive down Main Street and only stop three times until you reach the state of Conclusion. Instead you chose to take a fun, alternate, scenic route down Wattpad Lane. On this vibrant road you come across fruit trees, a lion, rabbits, a circus, two lovers and a group of aliens ready to swap your car for a luxury spaceship that will lead you to the original destination.
Have you noticed the problem?
Mainstream writing needs to be detailed, but concise. So I am told. That is a HIGHLY difficult task. Before you thinking I’ve been typing crap on my laptop, I’m not lol. I’ve been given positive praise for my work, but what I speak of is a common theme I’ve noticed while reading many other works. Recently while reading reviews on various book platforms, I noticed the reviewers consistently said they usually don’t like to read books from authors who’ve made the transition from WP to Mainstream. *
On top of my heart rate quickening with anxiety, it got me wondering, why? Why the obvious dislike towards my fellow WP writers? *Gasp* What’s wrong with Wattpad?
From what I gather, the belief is that the stories are lackluster. As I read these reviews clutching my proverbial pearls in drama, I began to worry. I continued to gnaw at the corners of my fresh manicure in panic over this news. As a future published author coming from Wattpad, I wondered was it a case of one rotten apple spoiled the bunch? Or are there valid points about the content produced by Wattpad authors?
Yes, and no.
Take the horrible snippet I wrote above. While that’s an exaggerated example, the piece highlighted the ridiculous problem of dumping a bunch of details into a story. When writing on Wattpad you have access to a giant pool of beta readers. This continuous loop of communication can work against you. I was sometimes guilty of this in my first novel Eros, until I caught myself.
The constant influx of comments, suggestions, questions and ideas can lead you to fill the book with an overabundance of details, which don’t need to be there. Without the ability to catch yourself and refine the story, you can write to fulfill the needs/questions of the WP reader. In real life when you’re drafting a novel, you don’t have access to a reader’s immediate thoughts until after the book is published.
Sadly, in the process of writing these unfocused detail saturated stories, develops a bunch of characters running around talking a lot, but saying nothing. Thus driving a plot to nowhere.
I understand. The feedback you receive from the reading community is often so positive, the story continues growing in popularity and without the “common sense” eye, a writer may very will leave it as is. Let’s be honest many writers don’t take constructive criticism well. Due to all of this, the serious writers on WP get a bad rep.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Wattpad is a great tool for writers, both serous and hobbyists alike. I’ve learned so much about writing through that portal. Mainly the ability to complete a story. I wrote and completed Eros in six months. I’ve working on my current novel Mercy for seven years. Eventually it became a story buried beneath lots of fluff (more on this in my next post). Essentially I want to become a professional writer. When that happens, I won’t have the ability to use WP as the mass beta-reading resource I use it for now. Publishers aren’t going to want their clients to freely distribute ideas because that’s money!
It’s a sad fact, but I’ve already drafted three stories to write after I’m finished the NYC series and I’ve got to say it SUCKS TREMDENOUSLY I won’t be able to share those story building moments with my readers. However, by choosing to be taken professionally, I understand the cord will need to be cut one day (not today my readers, you can chill lol I will continue to write WP stories!) That’s the struggle. How to become a successful writer, who is taken seriously making the transition from Wattpad to Mainstream?
A portion of my writing isn’t simply a solo project. A part of is a supportive effort from the comments and conversations about the plots, themes, and characters. The reactions I receive about the funny, sad and sexy moments that YOU the mainstream appreciate! I will be honest; I have made changes on occasion to clarify a plot or expand a character’s storyline. It’s disappointing to know that within the professional business of writing, there are some people who shun the idea of Wattpad writers.
Is everyone a perfect writer? No. Am I perfect writer? HELL NO! Do many amateur writers make mistakes with no intention of fixing them? Sadly, yes. While the stubbornness of those writers should not influence the actions of us who truly are working hard to be become better, to become successful, they have.
I don’t want to be an author *said with snootiness*. I want to be an author who writes to indulge other people’s guilty pleasures. I’m a writer on a cusp. Where does this leave me, I have no clue.