Writing for the Wattpad community (In-depth guide)
You know about orienting yourself to your writing life and developing your own individual habits and practices. In this article, we’ll be discussing the process of bringing other people into your work through the Wattpad community.
Posting on Wattpad
It’s so tempting to finish a chapter you’re proud of and immediately hit post. You’re excited, and you want to share that excitement with others! That’s awesome. However, before you start posting on Wattpad, it’s sometimes helpful to slow down for a second.
When you start posting a new story, you are making a promise to your readers about the kind of story they’re going to get. Starting a new story and then abandoning it is very hard on your relationship with your readers. So before you start posting, make sure you’re ready for that commitment. Consistent, regular updates are the best way to grow your following. The more often the better, but you should pick a cadence that works for you. If that’s Monday and Friday every week, or the second Sunday of the month, pick the schedule that works for you, let your readers know, and then stick to it. Writing a little bit ahead is the best way to keep your posting schedule regular. How much you have in the tank before posting depends on your cadence and how fast you write. If you’re updating monthly, you might only need 1 or 2 chapters in the tank, whereas if you’re planning to update 2 or 3 times a week, you’ll want to have a bigger reserve of chapters.
When you’re first getting started with a story, it’s not uncommon to feel like a lot of it is still up in the air. This is especially true for “pantsers” or discovery writers, who don’t have the whole story planned out before they start. But even hardcore plotters can find that the story sometimes grows unexpected offshoots. While you definitely don’t need to plan out your whole story before posting, it’s good to have an idea of who the characters are and the general shape of the story you’re trying to tell before you start posting. You don’t want to go back and change key details in your story after it’s already posted. While it can be tempting to just put content up and fix it later, you run the risk of damaging your readers’ trust in the story. If they read something and then find later that the story has changed, you’re telling them that the time they spent reading the story didn’t really matter, and you’re likely to lose readers as a consequence.
Try to have the basics of your story clear in your mind: the main characters, the worldbuilding (if applicable), the inciting incident, and the conflict that flows from it. Write as many chapters as you need to feel solid in the story you’re telling before sharing it. In general, we recommend having at least 5 chapters completed and polished before beginning to post.
We’ll also have resources available soon dedicated to story planning, but in the meantime, check out the Storycoaster for a basic breakdown of building tension in your story.
Curating your space
One of the most wonderful parts of Wattpad is the ability to interact with readers and hear their excitement as the story progresses. However, comments can also be a minefield. Curating your comment section is an important part of sharing your work and getting the most out of Wattpad.
Use content warnings to help your readers feel welcome. You can set the tone for your comment space by providing content warnings on your stories, either in relevant chapters or on the story as a whole. The purpose of content warnings is to give your readers a heads-up about sensitive content they’re going to encounter so that they can decide if they feel up for reading it. For example, a content warning might go on a story that has mentions of a sensitive topic like sexual assault, or depictions some people might find disturbing, like graphic violence. Some topics are banned regardless of whether a content warning is in place or not; for more information on that, you can review our content guidelines.
If you’re including sensitive topics in your stories, it’s a good idea to let your readers know it’s coming. Letting your readers know if a tough theme is going to be part of the story lets them make educated decisions about what they want to read, and it ensures that you won’t get comments from people who are negatively surprised by the inclusion of a particular theme.
Curate your comments. Is someone being rude to you or other users in your comments section? Feel free to delete those comments. Asserting your boundaries in your space is a crucial part of sharing your work. While it can feel mean to delete a comment, letting someone be offensive to you or other users actually just tells them that that behavior is okay, and it makes your readers feel less safe and welcome in your story overall. If someone is harassing you, make use of our mute and block tools. For more information on muting users and dealing with harassment, visit our safety portal.
Be self-reflexive. Mean, rude, and offensive comments hurt our feelings, but not every comment that hurts our feelings is mean, rude, or offensive. If a reader points out that an element of your story is a racial stereotype, it’s understandable that you’ll feel initially upset. After that first wave of upset passes, try to reflect on that comment. Even if it’s not phrased in the best way, does the comment have a point? Even if you didn’t mean to include a stereotype or other negative element, it’s possible you may have done so without meaning to. If you get a comment like this, you can bring it to Oracle to discuss in more depth with us, or search around a bit to see what the commenter might be referring to—TTIE’s factsheets and Storyline Partners are great places to start. We’d highly recommend not further engaging the initial commenter to explain what they mean to you, and instead doing your own research or bringing it to Oracle. Being offered the chance to change our thinking is a gift, and even if we’re uncomfortable at the moment, thinking more deeply about how our words affect people—especially people different from us—is an opportunity to grow as a writer and a person.
Dealing with critique
Posting your work on Wattpad is thrilling because you can get reader reactions as you go. Who doesn’t love seeing readers freak out over a twist or swoon over a love interest? However, not all comments are positive. Getting feedback can be vulnerable and feel hard, no matter how gently it’s phrased. The paradox is that these are often the things that can help us grow the most as a writer! This is not to say that any old rude comment is actually a valuable goldmine of craft advice; quite the opposite. Feel free to throw out anything offensive, insulting, or rude, and you can even hit the block button for good measure. For comments that seem to be offering actual critique, we’ve put together some questions that might help you figure out if this is a critique you want to take.
If you’re looking for more substantive critique, try finding a critique partner in the Creators Discord and using our feedback cheat sheet to ensure you’re giving and receiving good, helpful feedback.
Feel your feelings. You probably feel defensive, like the reader didn’t get you and is just being mean. Don’t respond at this point. Just feel your feelings for as long as it takes to let that initial storm pass. Getting critiques is hard. Let it be hard for a bit.
Does this critique have anything positive to say? Write down anything positive in the comment. A good critique should ideally tell you what you’re doing well or what the reader liked. The absence of positive comments isn’t a dealbreaker, but it does put a comment on thin ice.
Does this critique seem to be engaging with my work in good faith? If you’ve written a romance story and the comment complains about too much kissing, that’s probably something you can safely throw out. However, if the complaint is that the characters feel a little flat, maybe there’s something there.
Is this a matter of taste? If your plan is to have your heroine get with one love interest and the commenter prefers the other, you can probably disregard that comment. While it’s always great to hear your reader’s preferences, your artistic vision is more important than your readers’ desires. Come back to your alignment and stay strong in your artistic vision.
Is this about an identity or life experience I don’t share? One of the joys of writing is to explore lives and experiences outside of our own. However, when we write outside our own experiences, we run the risk of getting things wrong or inadvertently reinforcing harmful narratives. While it hurts to receive comments like this, it’s always worth considering that regardless of your intentions, the commenter may have a point. Rather than asking the commenter to explain it to you, we suggest taking comments like this in good faith and doing some research.
Community and the writing life
The writing life can be pretty solitary. So much of the work of writing happens alone, in our heads, or on the page. But creative community can be a vital part of the creative process. Very few people write at their best in total isolation. The creative community is a great way to feel inspired when things get hard and to grow as a writer.
Here are some ways to enlarge your creative community:
- Leave a comment. If there’s a writer whose work you admire, tell them!! Especially tell them if you loved a twist, or thought a line of dialogue was particularly poetic. There’s no such thing as too many compliments.
- Use Oracle. If you have a question about your work, hit us up on Oracle for writing advice or help getting unstuck!
- Find an accountability buddy. If you’ve got big goals for yourself but have trouble hitting them, finding someone else to write with or do sprints with can be an easy way to boost your process.
- Find a critique partner. This is a bit of a longer-term project since finding a critique partner is a lot about chemistry and fit. But having someone to bounce ideas off or look over passages you feel uncertain of can help you grow as a writer and help you tackle new projects. Try using our Feedback Cheat Sheet to help you give and get good feedback.