Is a website on which aspiring writers can post their fiction, both fan and original, piece by piece, for the edification of internet users. There's also some sort of social networking aspect to it in that you can friend people, message them, and trade reviews and writing tips and suchlike. I first heard of it when a certain Oxford student called Abigail Gibbs got a book deal from HarperCollins because she racked up 16 million views on it with her "The Dark Heroine," a sixth-rate Twilight knockoff which once again subscribes to the unfortunate trend of glamorising abusive relationships when the chappie is suitably hawt and rich and a vampire. But I have already derided that literary atrocity elsewhere.
The problem is, considering the average stuff that is on Wattpad, The Dark Heroine looks like a fjoerkin' masterpiece.
I went on there and had a look at what was on offer. The first thing that stuck out was that pretty much every other work on there was a Real Person fanfic about the execrable boy band One Direction. Most of it was devoid of any characterisation yet had metric fucktons of views.
The second thing that struck me was that vampire romance and werewolf romances were top level categories and well populated by things that had metric fucktons of views. I went onto some of these and quite frankly I have never seen so much bad writing in one place. Words fail.
And there's a very good explanation for this really. You see, more surfing around revealed that the average Wattpad user was a teenaged, or late teenaged, Twihard, and given these small reference pools, it is no surprise that the site gradually moves over to pandering to its base. And given the proclivities of its users, people who might be tempted to write something on there, well, they immediately leap on writing ropey vampire fiction because they have an audience right there for it. Which in turn gets thousands of reads and loads of squeeing teenagers who don't know any better who salivate over anything with fangs because they think having an immortal sparkly boyfriend is awesome giving encouraging comments, despite the fact that the noise you hear is that of one billion horses being flogged. There's also, for older Wattpad users, lots of romances of the sweppaway variety, and, of course, Fifty Shades of Grey knocking off if you put the "R" category filter on (most of which was even more execrable). Far from the heroine's bosoms, the only thing that was heaving by this stage was me.
There are other categories too, horror, humour, thriller, mystery, you know, sensible categories for sensible people, but they don't have half the interest of the rest of stuff. The Powers That Be over there have also cross-posted everything from Project Gutenberg but nobody reads it. After all, who cares about Stendhal or Ernest Hemingway when there's 645,124,057 Twiglet fan fictions to get through.
Problem is, while in the past we've had a salted-earth segment of the Web for derp and rage in the form of Fanfiction.net, given the existence of highly promoted and massive selling novels that have started life as fan fiction and on the internets in this manner, and The Dark Heroine, it is well known that publishers trawl these places looking for stuff with loads of views that will sell. And this really fucks me right off. Because... well, let's look at the stuff that I think would be a good novel and am writing or intending to write:
See? These things would all sink like a very heavy brick in very sloppy shit. Meanwhile, some godawful IKEA erotica Mary Sue fest gets thousands of views, gets picked up, and people buy it. Because artistry, creativity, and being honest and meaningful and exploring things have taken a back seat to whorish manipulation and pandering to marketrons. Which is why probably none of the above books will probably ever see print, and even if I did post them a bit at a time on Wattpad or suchlike, they'd not get read because they have to clamour for attention with scads of horribad scheisse about boy bands.
One person from work told me, "Hazelnut, well why don't you write some horribad scheisse about boy bands if you're that desperate to get published?" To which I firstly sneered at her critical integrity failure, and then replied, in the words of the immortal Martin Walkyier, "I'd rather be called sour and bitter than be deemed the flavour of the weak!"
To be fair I might as well post my stuff on Wattpad sooner or later. It can't hurt, but I hold out absolutely no hope for it. If you can't beat them, join them, hm? Either that, or I'll troll the place up by writing a One Direction fan fiction in which this happens to Harry Styles.