A great number of Wattpad books aren’t well written, but generally have good stories (I speak about the majority, but there are always exceptions to the “good story” rule). Yet, it’s an astonishment, as it’d be assumed that books need to be written well for the reader to read it. But perhaps this is the beauty of Wattpad: you can make-do by just becoming a storyteller and reach the top.
I can click on any story on the What’s Hot list and generally find something which betrays the notion of “low quality writing.” Yet, they generally have good plot-twists, edgy stories, repeated but somehow different. The blurbs of some of them are so enticing, I am drawn to the storyline and can (sometimes) ignore the low-quality writing.
So what makes them so popular, even with the little effort given to actually writing the story themselves? Because these are stories which aren’t written by a writer, but a storyteller. A storyteller relies on their readers, on their plot-twists and adding aspects of different things so the reader will like it. Their entire writing career revolves around making the reader happy.
Despite how bad I make it seem, it’s honestly not such a bad concept. They generally have good lead characters, an enticing plot, good character development, some dash of humour/romance/adventure, and maybe an awesome villain? It also means the majority of readers are drawn to that kind of story; they love it because the writer, without mentioning it, writes it for them.
With storytellers (or rather, my definition of storytellers) they write what readers read. It’s a wonderful way to start out, get more readers and improve (after all, how will you improve if nobody reads and critiques your story?) These are the advantages of a storyteller.
Now when you look back on the What’s Hot list, it seems more tolerable. These aren’t writers, but storytellers. I’m not making a distinction to criticise storytellers; instead, I want to explain why writers shouldn’t dream of competing with storytellers in the traditional “whoever has more reads/votes.”
My definition of a writer is somebody who doesn’t care what their reader thinks. They are independent, work on building upon their crafts, and generally write stories which aren’t very attractive at first glance. They focus on word structure, they ponder the use of every single word, they write dialogue sparingly and rewrite several times before uploading a chapter to make it the best they can (at that time) because they know that, after finishing the novel, they’ll be editing again.
These writers are those who work on character development, who practice every single day and not when their readers ask them to upload. They outline their stories, doing everything in their power to utilize the power of words.
They are never really that popular. They don’t write plots to suit readers. Because of this, they are never degrading. They never add “start of flashback/end of flashback” or explain foreshadowing. Sometimes, the readers are confused; the writer acknowledges this, but will explain nothing more than, “If you want to know, keep reading.” But being a “pure writer” isn’t a good thing, either.
If you are truly writing for an audience, you need to create plots which work, You need to write in a way that doesn’t confuse your readers, or bore them. At the same time, you need characters who are, to some extent, simplistic. Having complex characters, so complicated that even the reader cannot understand them, may cause a lot of harm. Similarly, the plot is an important part of the story; it’s unwise to demean it. Basically, the storyteller needs something a writer does; likewise, the writer needs something that a storyteller does.
It is because of this huge distinction that writers and storytellers can never be compared. So if you’re not on the What’s Hot list, and you have identified yourself as a writer, then start measuring your progress in something else: whether it’s the amount of chapters you’ve written, the amount of words, keeping a list of positive comments (no matter how little) beside you.
If you have identified yourself as a storyteller, don’t worry. You will eventually be stumbled upon (the way I had when I identified myself as a storyteller). There was once a time where I, myself, relied on the reader’s opinions and created my chapters accordingly. Now, I am not the epitome of my “writer” definition, but am a lot closer to it than a storyteller. (I’m trying to become more like a storyteller now)
Similarly, if you are a storyteller, don’t measure yourself in comparison to a writer. Instead, keep writing for your readers, your fans. Don’t measure your words, your rewrites or how often you write. Rather, have the votes/fans as your form of measuring accomplishments, along with the number of nice comments, the number of people waiting for you to update, etc.
Writers and storytellers are completely different. It’s about finding which category you (generally) fall under, finding your own method of measuring progress, and never adopting the measurement system of the other group, as it will merely frustrate you.
**This analogy, I believe, only applies to the Wattpad world. In order to be an author, you need to be both a writer and storyteller. If you are writing professionally, distinguishing yourself into one category is harmful, as you will lack certain attributes and skills of the other category.