I’m at that awkward age. I’d probably be considered wise and worth respect in Japan but in the U.S., by the American teenager, not so much. Still, I have to hand it to my granddaughter. She’s always willing to bring the old lady up to date.
This week, she introduced me to Wattpad, an on-line or phone ap that allows you to download books for free. While the original version—started in Canada in 2006—began with the list of titles available from Project Gutenberg, it has evolved into a place where amateur writers (age 13 and up) can upload their own stories to be read and reviewed by thousands of readers.
I did a little research before I started writing this post and rather than repeat a bunch of already-published comments, I’ll send you to this link:
Professional David Gaughran does a nice job of introducing the uninitiated to the site and explain what he hopes to get out of posting some of his work for free: recognition.
I checked him out and found that he joined Wattpad about 7 months ago and has accumulated 235 fans. Not bad, I think. Then I check out the “What’s Hot” section and find this:
One of the Boys
Samantha Evans. A 17-year old girl in her Senior Year of High School. Stereotype says that she should be worrying about what outfit she's going to wear and what boy she's going to date, but Samantha has a different plan. For Samantha, her Senior Year is all about proving that she deserves to be the Quarterback for Westview High School just as much as the next guy. But as the season continues, Blake Jameson moves to town with one idea on his mind. To lead the Westview High School football team to another state victory, as Quarterback.
And “KnightsRachel” the author, has only been a member for a year. She looks to be about 15 and has already impressed that many people!
The fact that anyone can upload anything gets you things like this which are either written by someone very young, or someone with no typing skills, or someone who has no idea what grammar is:
christy is a 16 year old girl who loves exploring. when her mother decides to take the titanic christy knows she will have the time of her life. when she meets a second class boy just as wild as her she knows she came on titanic for a reason. based on the true story of titanic. a heart breaking tragedy.(the characters are made up though)
But, so what? The point is, kids are reading, kids are writing, kids are commenting. (And so are grownups) That’s where it all starts, right?
I know for my granddaughter, these books are discussed, recommended, and new authors who put up a chapter at a time are encouraged to continue as their “fans” ask for more. Maybe it’s not the best writing in the world but no one starts that way. My granddaughter reads a lot. She’s in AP English and has had as much to say about Jane Eyre as she has about some of her Wattpad writers.
This isn’t a place to try out your latest picture book, easy reader, or middle grade novel, but if you’re into YA, it just might be the place to get a fan base and have readers asking for more.