In Defense of Bad Writing and Teen Fiction

Brace yourself, folks—this post is going to be a rant-y and ramble-y one. I might even piss a few of you off. But I’m okay with that.

So, let’s dive right into it. There is a growing divide on Wattpad between the adults and the teens, and a divide between the pop fiction writers and…everyone else.

I don’t like it.

Many folks on Wattpad are outraged by the amount of attention “bad” teen writing gets. They’re disgusted by the millions (literally) of fan fiction stories about One Direction, and the hundreds of thousands of melodramatic romances about werewolves and their mates. Worse, they say, the writing is atrocious. None of these kids know how to tag dialogue properly, and haven’t they heard of spell check?

But the most heinous crime of these teen so-called writers is that their stories are popular. Somehow, these illegible, clichéd stories are topping the What’s Hot lists and have generated millions of reads.

The folks who are complaining don’t always say this out loud, but what they’re thinking is, it’s not fair and my story is more deserving.

Now, I object to this on a whole lot of different levels. To be fair, I’m biased, as Paladin has gotten a lot of visibility on Wattpad, and perhaps if it remained among one of the millions of undiscovered stories, I too would be annoyed.

But here’s the thing. Paladin will never see as many reads as the #1 Romance or #1 Fan Fiction story on Wattpad. And I don’t care. It’s not a competition. It’s not like readers only choose one story. Readers who love to read are excited when they come across lots of good books. The fact that “Project Popularity” has 6.5 million reads and over 100K votes doesn’t mean that readers will choose that book over mine. Maybe they’ll choose Paladin, because they prefer fantasy to contemporary romance, or maybe they’ll decide to read both. Depending on the speed of your reading, a book only lasts a few days or perhaps a week. Once you’re done, you move on to the next one. A reader’s appetite is limitless.

What I’m trying to say is that another book’s popularity doesn’t have any impact on your own. So stop blaming those egregiously popular teen writers if your book isn’t getting the kind of visibility you want.

The other piece of this unfounded anger that bothers me is the accusation that these “bad writers” are undeserving. Let me ask you this—do you think these authors purposely try to write badly? Maybe I’m too optimistic, but I believe 90% of writers on Wattpad take pride in their work and are trying their damned hardest. Besides, how do you ever get better at writing without, well, writing? We all have to start somewhere.

I’m not saying that means we need to coddle younger or inexperienced writers. We don’t need to tell them they’re brilliant or hand them a participation trophy—that doesn’t do them any good in the long run. There’s a very easy solution to dealing with the writing that offends you on Wattpad—don’t read it. I may defend the bad writers (or at least defend their right to write), but that doesn’t mean my empathy extends to reading writing I don’t like. I guess I just don’t get why people find the existence of bad writing so offensive, so long as the author is not a) charging me for it or b) forcing me to read it.

Probably, though, what people find truly objectionable is the fact that some of these “poorly written” stories are popular. I want to qualify this a little—I have never seen a popular story on Wattpad with incomprehensible writing. Ridden with basic mistakes that make my inner Grammar Nazi cringe, yes, but not incomprehensible. The point is, all of the popular books still manage to tell a story.

I think we all could benefit from taking a look at these popular stories with less than stellar prose and analyze what it is that makes people flock to them. Obviously it’s not the writing, so that tells us that readers care more about other aspects of a book.

Your snarky response to me (I’m having an imaginary conversation with you in my head) is that well, duh, they play into clichés. There’s the love triangle, the bitchy cheerleader, the bad-boy vampwolf, etcetera, etcetera. You would never stoop so low as to write something so trite.

Okay, fair point. But obviously there’s a market for cliché stories, or people wouldn’t read them. If people enjoy reading clichés, why is it wrong to write them, especially if you enjoy them yourself? The same goes for fan fiction—people write fan fiction and people read them. Demand for One Direction stories exceeds the supply. Isn’t the fact that there are readers out there clamoring for 1D fan fic enough reason to write them? (Btw, you should all go out and read Fangirl by Rainbow Powell. It’ll change your perspective on fan fiction. Plus, it’s brilliant. I cried.)

But there are a lot of clichéd stories on Wattpad that don’t have reads in the millions. Which to me means that these popular authors are doing something else to get to the top. Something that could be applicable to the rest of us. Maybe, just maybe, these terrible, horrible, no good, very bad authors have something they could teach us (kudos if you catch the reference). Maybe they’re doing something right that you’re doing wrong.

Now, I am an old, and no longer so hip to what the cool kids are doing these days. But in some of the rants I’ve seen on Wattpad coming from adults and teens alike, I’ve identified a few problems.

Stop alienating potential readers.
Do you know what’s not helping you get reads? Complaining about how much all the teen writers on Wattpad suck. Part of the appeal of Wattpad—beyond the fact that books are free—is the ability for writers and readers to connect. You are not just your story—you are you, a person, and readers can interact with you. They see your comments in forums and on walls. You’re not helping your cause by insulting the vast majority of the Wattpad population.

And let’s be realistic about the Wattpad audience. I don’t have any data points to prove this, but intuition tells me that the ratio of adults (ages 18+) to teens is something like 25:75. That probably isn’t going to change significantly because teens are more social media savvy, and adults have access to credit cards and aren’t as reliant on free e-books. You may say you’re only writing for adults, but that severely limits your potential readership. I’m not saying you have to pander to a younger audience—you should write the book you want to write—but dismissing the entire teen population as beneath you seems pretty foolish.

I don’t know about you, but I started reading “adult” novels when I was 9 years old. I still recall my first adult book—it was Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind. There was a scene in which the Big Bad Guy killed a little boy, cut off his testicles and ate them. There were also BDSM scenes. So yes, it was truly adult. I still loved it (although I totally did not get that Denna was a dominatrix until YEARS later).

I bring this up because, just like adults often read Young Adult books (who hasn’t read The Hunger Games?), teens often read adult books. You may not be writing a story for them specifically, but you shouldn’t pooh-pooh them as readers.

You don’t know how to promote your story.
The popular teen writers on this site might not write better than you, but they sure as hell promote better. They promote better than me, too, if it’s any consolation.

Why do I say that? Well, I’m not a teen. I’m not completely out of touch, but I can’t relate to a teen on the same level as another 16 year old. And the way social media works, things go viral based on peer-to-peer recommendations and peer-to-peer influencers. That includes stories on Wattpad. By virtue of being an old, I’m out of that peer-to-peer circle.

Well, eff, you might be thinking, how is that commentary remotely useful? To me the takeaway is that I need to try to get on their level. I mean, I’m not about to start gabbing about One Direction in the forums, but I do talk to potential teen readers all the time about interests we have in common. It helps me understand how they think, what kinds of promotional tactics appeal to them, what they want to read, etc. Besides, some of them are pretty cool.

The popular authors on Wattpad also put the time in to promote. And yes, one valuable method of promotion is just being active in the forums and getting to know people on a personal level. The writers who you see everywhere (all over the forums, posting on walls, on stories, etc.) tend to have massive followings.

Your story isn’t as good as you think it is.
Okay, this one obviously doesn’t apply to everyone, and maybe it’s not that helpful to bring up since it’s so hard to self-evaluate. Your story may very well have not been discovered yet because you haven’t put in enough time promoting it, you’re new to Wattpad, etc.

But no matter how much time you spend marketing yourself and your book, if you didn’t write a story people will like, you won’t get readers.

I think a LOT of writers mistakenly believe that because their stories are technically well-written (the grammar is flawless; the prose is beautiful; the descriptions of setting are sweeping) they’ve written a great book. Unfortunately, good writing isn’t that simple. The characterization, the plot development, the voice are what determines whether your story is good or not. Those aren’t measurable things, and while they’re learn-able, they’re not necessarily teachable. How do you create a loveable character? I don’t really know how to explain it (nor have I perfected the art myself)…all I know is they should feel alive on the page. You should be able to feel their personality in the narration. They should be able to move your readers to tears or laughter.

I like to point to the story I wrote my sophomore year of college. The writing is close to technically perfect.  The story is awful. Why? It’s boring.

So that brings me back to a much earlier point I made, about why a poorly written story is popular and yours might not be. Frankly, readers will choose a book with terrible writing and a fast-paced plot and great characters over a well-written story with no heart every time.

Alright, folks. I think that’s enough incoherent ranting from me for now. Feel free to tell me I’m a heartless beyotch who is so beyond biased my rambles are irrelevant. I don’t mind!


  1. I agree that the hate is absolutely stupid.

    One thing I like to remember is that when I first started writing at 14 I was *TERRIBLE* at it. I mean, yeah, the spelling was good, it was technically correct, but for God’s sake, it was terrible because all the correct parts were there, it just wasn’t any good.

    We were all beginning writers at one point. A friend of mine has a Masters in English with a minor in something else, and his first fiction piece that he did was absolutely terrible. It read like poor stereo instructions. It was technically correct, was perfect as far as English worked, but it was NOT a good read even though the story was a good plot, the characters were there but the characterization was technically correct but didn’t flow right, and things like that.

    I’d encourage people to read new writer’s stuff, critique it honestly just as you would anyone else’s material, point out everything that you would point out on anyone’s else’s stuff, and accept the fact that a new writer is naturally going to be just as defensive with their work as a new car owner is about their car.

    That doesn’t mean taking crap from them or their fans, but it does mean trying to be understanding and patient when explaining exactly what is wrong with their work and *why* it is wrong and above all, explaining *how* to fix it, including giving them resources.

    Bah, now I’m rambling. :)

    1. Ha, we writers tend to ramble. Comes with the territory.

      I like how you described the “correct parts” being there, but the story still not working. Writing isn’t a mathematical equation where you can just plug in the numbers and get the right response. Although it would be nice if it worked that way :)

  2. I admit, I once joined in the “but that story is crap, how does it have so many reads” rants when I first joined. Now I don’t really care. I doubt I’ll ever be popular on Wattpad, but I do all right. My writing isn’t the best, it isn’t the worst, it’s really just… well… me. I’m not as active as I used to be on the forums (just don’t see as many topics I feel I can contribute too) but I will vouch for them. That’s how I got featured.

    I made friends with someone that didn’t read my Freelander at first. We were just chatting about the plots of our stories and what not. At some point I must’ve said something she liked and so she read it. She didn’t like that it didn’t have many reads and so she suggested it to be featured and it was. Had I not met her it never would’ve happened. I certainly don’t feel like I’m a good enough writer to be on that list to have suggested myself.

    The other thing people have to rembmer is at least these kids are writing. I mean I won’t lie and say I don’t have my fair share of mockery of certain terrible stories, but t least these kids are writing. They could be playing video games, drinking, having sex, getting into trouble, basically ANYTHING other than writing. Yet there they are, writing. They CAN get better and will with practice and proper guidance. Probably the only ones I truly hate are the ones that get pissy if you polite try and tell them things like their dialogue tags are wrong or whatever else is wrong. But even if the “suck” now, they might not suck when they’ve had that world experience to use as inspiration. If I compare where I was when I was a teen to where I am now (and I was a teen writing Highlander Fan Fiction) I’m LOADS better. Hell just from my first draft of Freelander to the one I just finished rewriting is a vast improvement.

    Plus it’s not just kids, there are a lot of adult writers that suck too :-p Crappy writing is kind of subjective at times.

    Okay, I don’t know that I have a point anywhere in this.

    1. Ha, my no-hate policy for teen writers does not extend as far as accepting bad behavior. I don’t care how old you are–it’s important to learn how to accept criticism respectfully, even if you disagree with it. But to your point about adult writers that suck too, there are also adult writers who lash out at criticism.

      And you are too hard on yourself, missy! You can tell a good story (the je-ne-sais-quoi that i was struggling to describe when I was trying to differentiate technically good writing from actually good writing).

    2. Haha yeah, nobody is perfect out there. It doesn’t matter your age, there’s always those people that think they know better even when they really don’t. The point is to accept the fact you’re not perfect and learn from those who might have better knowledge of something.

      As for me being hard on myself… this is true. I really am haha. Probably the only positive thing I will ever say about myself is I have good flow. I never struggle with getting from start to finish. It’s the actual words and sentences that drive me nuts :-p

  3. I have to agree with you on this! I am a teen myself and personally I love to read! I’ve been reading adult books since well about the same time as you! Though recently I have been getting into more adult romance books which I always thought I wouldn’t like but I decided to give it a shot and now I can’t get enough! One of the things that turn me into reading someones story isn’t the fact of spelling because I’ve read published ones and nonpublished and no matter what I can always find some kind of spelling error or something that I think should have been phrased differently! However, its the fact that all the books I read are ones that the characters speak to me or come alive as you would say. So although they may have terrible spelling or need to fix things the story-line or plot with an amazing character list is what sells the book for me! For instance, I have over 9 books that I have been reading and been waiting for updates. But I have also finished serveral on here as well! Like for instance your Paladin book was absoultely breath taking! I fell in love with you characters and couldn’t stop ready. My parents aren’t like other parents who say I want my child to read more instead my parents are like I wish she would read less. Because my nose is always in a book whether on wattpad or from my school library! And also I am a writer as well though not as good as most and I differently need to work on it. But the mistakes that I’ve made along the way have only made me want to rewrite it or continue on with my story so that I can still try my best. I have two stories that I’m working on and my first one is horrible! I know that for a fact and I’ve lost my sense in writing it but my second one is also bad in some aspects. However, I continue writing with it because I feel a connection with my character and I am learning as I am writing and reading my own story on how to become better! So, yes teen or adult writers might not be as perfect writing as some on wattpad but they put there heart into the books that encourage us to read them! As for the fan fiction well I don”t read them but I do believe everyone is entiled to write what there heart desires. Now for the promoting part I am still clueless as to how to do it but I have learned some things that I am trying to work on to better myself in promoting my stories. But even if my stories are never seen or read I still love writing and reading other peoples stories so its fine with me either way! Bt anyways that just my opinion! And sorry for my ranting! :p

    1. I think that’s fantastic! Most of the teen writers on Wattpad (likely you, too) are wayyy better than I was at that age. And if you feel a connection with your characters, you’re likely doing it right :) You have to feel the connection for your readers to feel it too.

  4. I think you made some awesome points in here! Although…honestly, now I feel bad because I JUST did this same thing earlier today. For some reason–because it was an adult writer and I thought the book was awful–it felt okay for me to be resentful of the author of Fifty Shades. (I forget her name. EJ? I think?)

    But it’s NOT okay for me to resent her success. Technically, my writing may be better than hers–(or at least I feel it is) but she did something I haven’t been able to do. So who am I to call myself “better?” Clearly, I’m not “better” or I’d be the one with the huge best-seller.

    It’s hard to put a TON of time and energy into something and then watch someone come along and make it big–whether it’s on Wattpad or in the “real” world–with something that it seems like they just dashed off and barely bothered to edit. But–the thing is–NOBODY dashes off a book.

    Writing a whole book is a huge time commitment and everyone who has ever done it has worked hard on what they’ve written. Therefore, when I resent their success because they didn’t work “as hard” as me, I’m pretty much just being a petty a-hole. And yeah…I’m gonna admit. Sometimes I’m a petty a-hole. But, from now on, I’m going to really try not to be.

    As far as the kids on here–I have spent the last five years critiquing for a TON of different adults. I try to be really positive with my critiques. I always use the sandwich method (start with a positive, critique, end with a positive) All the critiques I do take me anywhere from twenty minutes to five or six hours of my time–time I could easily spend doing other things. Yet, despite that, I’ve repeatedly offended adult writers by telling them that their books still have problems.

    I have had people accuse me of not being smart enough to understand the intricacies of their writing. I’ve had people stop talking to me. Bash my name on other sites. And–I promise–I am NEVER mean. All I’ve ever done is try my best to help people. I’m not sure why someone would ask for a critique if all they really want is to be told how amazing they are–but it’s something I’ve run into over and over again.

    And then I joined Wattpad. And I’ve done a LOT of critiquing in the couple weeks I’ve been on here. Everything from basic comments to having kids email me whole chapters and doing line-edits for them. And, without fail, every kid I’ve critiqued has been SO sweet and SO grateful that someone is willing to take the time to show them what they are doing wrong–and compliment them on what they are doing well.

    Speaking solely from the realm of my own experiences–I’d much rather critique teens than adults. They are more polite, more open to suggestions and much more aware that I don’t NEED to take the time to do what I’m doing.

    Now–mind you–I’ve had NO experience critiquing for adults on Wattpad. Maybe I’d find that the adults on here are just as awesome as the kids. I’ve ended up reading all teen stuff because that’s what I write–YA. And that’s what I read for enjoyment–so it makes sense for me to read it on here as well. And I guess that’s why I’ve ended up doing critiques for all teenagers.

    But again–I can’t stress enough–in my opinion, these kids on here are amazing. They are so motivated. Some of them have insane amounts of talent. They’re all willing to learn and get better. And I think they can teach me as much as I can teach them.

    For any adult on Wattpad who doesn’t like reading “awful” teen writing–either don’t read it, or offer to help the kid get better. I guarantee they will thank you for it and you will walk away with a whole different perspective. :)

    Great blogpost, Sally!

    1. In the spirit of honesty, I also rag on 50 Shades and Twilight all the time — but those are books I’ve been forced to pay for. That said, I think there’s a difference between saying you hate a book and saying you hate the author as a person. (And I will also cop to being jealous of those authors’ success). What worries me on Wattpad is when those lines get blurred, and people move from trashing a book they disliked to trashing the person. Like, I LOATHE Twilight (loathe loathe loathe) but I would never dream of telling Stephanie Meyer she shouldn’t write or that her success was undeserved.

    2. I haven’t read any of the Twilight books though I have seen the movies. I have read excerpts here and there and I’m not sure how out of context they may be taken but I loathe Stephanie Meyer’s style of writing as well. (On my Booksie account I have a tongue-in-cheek short story entitled “The Eclipse of a New Moon And The Breaking Dawn of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Demise”” Yeah. I know.) What I find interesting though is that her stories became so popular. High school girl dates moody boy and discovers he’s a vampire isn’t a new idea and many writers have presented it much better than Stephanie Meyer, so I do wonder what the appeal has been for younger writers when it comes to her books.

    3. I think it’s partially because Bella is so bland anyone can see themselves in her. She’s like an empty vessel. Either that, or she gives all the girls in the world who feel like they’ve got nothing going for them hope. After all, there’s no reason Edward loves her. He just does.

  5. That is very true, people who enjoy fan fics about One Direction or Justin Bieber are going to gravitate to those stories and people that don’t, are not. It’s that simple. There is one thing though about some of the younger writers that truly does bother me and that is some of the statements I’ve seen in opening profiles that say, “I hate to read” or “My spelling and grammar sux so just deal with it!”<—this last one is an actual profile statement over on Booksie,lol.

    We all had to start somewhere and I started off on a typewriter with WiteOut for all my errors.(And I bet some of you reading this don’t know what WiteOut is; you’re lucky). And I painstakingly corrected all my work. Why? Because I loved writing. And I wanted to be good at what I loved, and that entailed correct spelling and good grammar. Nowadays, it’s soooo much easier with Spell-check and a grammar-check as well but a lot of writers starting out simply don’t use these features,why I don’t know. (And I do take into account that English may be the writer’s second language when I critique)

    If you truly love to write…then engage it on all levels, learn about it, master it the best you can so you can put your best work out there. And read. Read other peoples’ work, study their plots and characterizations, or simply read to enjoy the story but read, and read, and read. I have a friend who writes Spongebob Squarepants fan fic. I’ve read some of her work and while I don’t understand the attraction (not a big sponge fan here), her work is correctly spelled, grammar-checked, and shows imagination. She may never write anything else other then Spongebob (she’s nine) and that’s fine but as she learns the basics and grows within her writing she may pen a novel that’s the equal to Harry Potter when she gets older. Because yes,she’s that dedicated. And I know that when I read her work, she’s presenting me with the very best that she can do. So,I’ve rambled enough here,lol. Point of ramble: It doesn’t matter what you enjoy writing, just write it. But make sure when you put it out there for others to enjoy,it’s the best you can do and that includes spelling and grammar. Don’t cheat yourself or others when you’re doing something you love.

    1. Oof, anyone who writes “my grammar sux so deal with it” will never count me as a reader. If you KNOW you have a weakness in your writing, you should work towards fixing it.

      LOL at Spongebob. Can’t say I’ve seen a ton of Spongebob fan fic, but that’s fantastic. When she becomes a world renowned author, those first few stories will be fun to look back at.

  6. Well, I can’t say I disagree with anything you said.

    Of course, it reminds me a lot of what you, I, and Tamara were discussing on Wattpad—except you applied it to the teen writer hate and I was talking about envy of published work that sells millions.

    So, of course, I think you’re dead on.

    I’ve had pretty good experiences with teen writers. When I first started working on promoting myself here, I did review exchanges with a few. I felt really bad when I leveled some serious criticism of one girl’s story structure (her prose was actually rather nice), and she looked at my WIP (my baseball steroid-user book “The Unnatural”) and professed to having a “writer’s crush” on me because she wished she could write like me one day.

    She apologized for not being able to exchange criticisms because she didn’t feel like she could evaluate my work, and then went into a forum and expressed concern about her writing being “bad”. Seriously, this girl WANTS to be good—just like me when I was her age.

    So, looking down on them because they like 1D or werewolves and vampires would have been exactly like the people who made fun of Star Trek convention goers or Tolkien lovers in earlier generations.

    The other thing I’d like to point out is that us high fantasy writers have a lot of outside competition for wattpad readers that 1D fanfic writers don’t have. Readers can get Lord of the Rings movies, or Eragon or watch Game of Thrones, they can play video games, or dive into the library of fantasy novels that have become popular since the 70’s. But, where else are they gonna get 1D fiction?

    How else will they really satisfy the fancies they have on these pop stars? Before wattpad, you might have had magazine articles, but you’d never get books because the ephemeral nature of boy band popularity would make them run from investing in a book whose market could disappear in months. But, teen wattpad writers don’t have that problem. And, they’re more likely to write what the 1D fans REALLY want, instead of being constrained by the publishing house’s need for a “reputation in the field”.

    1. Yup, the conversation with you and Tamara as well as a conversation with a couple folks on the other side of the teen writer issue on Wattpad are what prompted this blog post.

      That is an excellent point about no outside competition for 1D fan fiction. I’ve never thought about that before. Wattpad really has the corner of that market!

  7. I was nodding in my in approval as I was reading through this post, because well, It’s all mostly true. How many messages do I get on a daily basis that asks “Why can’t I get more reads?”, or even one time I received one that said “I wrote a Wolf/Mate story and people aren’t reading it!” Okay, when I got that last one I just about wanted to get up from my chair and run into the nearest wall, hoping that maybe, just maybe I was in some alternate universe where that message must have been a joke.

    I feel like, sometimes, some of the new writers that join this site immediately jump into writing a story about a love triangle, wolf/mate, or even 1D fan fic just because they read the ‘What’s Hot List’ and see all these stories making it to the top spots. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that these authors don’t deserve their rankings, but it just seems that newer users on the site do it in the hopes of getting reads, votes, etc.

    There was this one reader who kept messaging me, over and over again, asking the same question, “What story should I write?” “What story do you think will make everyone come and read it?” Now, I hate to say it, but that just pissed me off. Why, WHY would you ask me what story you should write? It is not my place to answer that question. Now, as much as I would have loved to send them a long-ass message, I simply replied, “Write what you know”.

    I want to see more Epic fantasies, adventures and kick-ass heroines rather than the ugly girl who transforms into this hottie and can finally get the hot werewolf. I get it, people crave these things, but the question I’m asking is, ‘Are you writing this because you are passionate about it, or just wanting millions of people to read it?” Is that fair to ask?

    I’m just worried that our pre-teens are getting sucked down with all these stories. Again, don’t get me wrong, shifter/vampire stories are my secret fantasies, but my favorite authors that write these (Kelley Armstrong, Karen Chance, L.K. Hamilton) are actually pushing the boundaries and doing more than writing cliches. They are really breathing life into these plots & characters. My vision for our pre-teens go beyond these fan-fics and girl meets boy-then boy turns into a vampire type of stories. I want them to write because they are passionate about the characters and story more so than the number of reads.

    Both of us started our Wattpad journey relatively around the same time. I remember reading Paladin when the 2nd chapter was up, and even messaging you halfway into your book, talking about WP being a melting pot and what not. Yes, Paladin drew me into your corner of the WP site, but it wasn’t only that. It was the fact that despite how many reads all these Fan-fics were gaining, you were more immersed in bettering your story and truly bring your characters to life–I absolutely loved it. I think it also helped that we loved the same genre, and what you were writing was right up my alley, BUT STILL. No matter the reads, votes, etc, you were more concentrated on writing than watching your read counter rise.

    I know when I first started I was first wondering how people were able to get their counters to reach thousands, even millions, but as soon as I started writing that all disappeared. I still was looking at the read counters just to get an idea if people were actually reading my story, but as I never wrote because I wanted my numbers to rise, no, I wrote because I was passionate about my stories, about my characters. Dragon Heir, in my opinion is a Grammar Nazi nightmare, but I know I’ve learned from it.

    Now, I’m just ranting–blah. I guess, to conclude this confusing and long message, all i want to say is, write because you want to, because you’re passionate, not to wait for that read counter to turn into bold red numbers.

    I was going to double check what I wrote, but BLAHHH. It’s raw…oh wells.


    1. I agree with your post 100%. Obviously my blog post couldn’t go into everything — this is not a one side issue, and adults or teens who aren’t fans of popfic are not entirely to blame. There are definitely writers on Wattpad who write solely to get reads and top the charts, and I agree that’s a bit sad. I don’t think, as writers, we should totally ignore the wants of our readership, but we should also be passionate about the story we’re writing.

    2. Yes. It’s one thing to realize the wants of your readers, but when you forget your own story in the process because you’re too focused on ratings, then you’re writing for all the wrong reasons.

  8. Is this really such a huge topic at Wattpad? I haven’t seen much of it except for a few ‘rant’ style books talking about it. I only take notice because I worry I might be lumped in with those ‘adults’ because I have slipped into ‘I’m old and all you youngn’s don’t know nuth’n’ mode on occasion.(I tend to slip into this tone to whine about how I wish someone would read something outside of popular fiction because there’s SO much good writing out there, mostly because I have no one to talk to about all the older and more obscure writing I enjoy.)
    I’ve also seen a good deal of teens and young adults dishing out this hate as much or more vocally than the adults. But I haven’t been on the forums much lately.
    I love your point about technically perfect writing. It makes me sad when writers who truly have a great voice and story are discouraged because they struggle with grammar. Grammar Nazis don’t necessarily write well.
    Wattpad allows those writers to be seen, and hopefully get the support and encouragement to potentially learn and grow or find a good editor. :)
    I know I wouldn’t have improved as a writer if it wasn’t for Wattpad. And you know who helped me a great deal? Several writers much younger than me. :)

    1. I’ve seen a lot of the attitude I slammed, unfortunately, although it isn’t really only coming from adults. A lot of teens who don’t write fanfic or pop fic have the same your-story-doesn’t-deserve-it mentality.

      Now, I DO think there is an issue with more high brow works not getting enough reads, but I’m not sure I blame the system for that. Good writing deserves visibility, but I think a lot of writers don’t realize how important promotion is in getting their work out there. Many writers are introverts, so the inherently social nature of promotion on Wattpad is beyond them.

      And same here! I never thought about writing seriously until I joined Wattpad, learned a few things, and got a whole lot of support from (way younger than me) readers.

  9. I agree whole harthly as a reader i love quiet a few stories that might be badly written, but there home language is not English. So the grammar and spelling might be poor but there story line is above, most English author’s. So i will read any persons work as long as it suits me and my sense of enjoyment. Marc or mla031

  10. Sally,

    I’ve been kicking around your blog post here for about a week now. Just like you took what we were discussing and applied it to another problem, I’ve done the same thing and posted it on my blog.

    I think a lot of people here might like to see the result. By combining some of my thoughts on another subject, with this discussion, I think we have a bigger problem than I realized before:

    If posting my link annoys you, please message me on Wattpad. I’ll be happy to take it down.

  11. Hey Sally,

    Gotta post a thank you to you here. Given your horde of fans, I wasn’t sure if you’d see a PM.

    This thread you started, inspired my essay “The MFA Effect”—which I posted on my blog and included as a stand alone on Wattpad. The content editors over there rather liked it, and told me they were “passing it around the office”.

    Basically, that essay got me noticed, and led to my story “The Unnatural” getting featured (which, btw, is now ranked #9 on historical fiction). So I thought I’d give a shout out to you.

  12. Seeing this late (as usual). I agree with most of what you say Sally, except the (I believe, unintended) ideology that if cliched fan fiction sales, write cliched fan fiction.

    I’m one of those wattpad authors who are (as you might’ve realized) painfully unpopular- like on severe levels. I can write – not speaking out of self-evaluation here – and why I have been told so is due to the uniqueness of my stories…the originality.

    I would everyday rather read anything else from those excruciatingly repetitive stories – the good ones – just because they are good and not cliched, popular or not.

    One thing I don’t do though is to condescend on the tireless efforts of the people who write cliches and are popular either by calling their work ‘undeserving’ or by bitching about why mine isn’t ahead of theirs in read or vote count. Why? Just as you kept mentioning- they work and promote a million times harder than I do.

    And again, like you said, it’s not entirely my fault- I’m 20, hence, an ‘adult’, and I’m in college reading one of the most time-consuming courses you can imagine (contact me if you wish to know what course it is, or not).

    So, all these factors (and a few more) contribute to my regrettable unpopularity.

    Anywho, nice article Sally. It’s very enlightening.

  13. Really enjoyed this piece – big applause – I think you hit the nail on the proverbial head. Every writer needs to develop all their skills – find their weaknesses (we all have them) and work hard to improve. You are a perfect example. As a writer, you are hungry to improve, you take criticism and advice, you give it consideration and then you are brave enough to challenge yourself to improve – hats off!

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