Pen and paper are so 2008. Word counts, full-screen editing spaces and automatic spell-checks aren’t essentials: but my goodness, do they make things easier. But which writing platform is right for you? Here’s a pros and cons round up of the top three – Wattpad, Movellas and Tumblr – so you can find out for yourself.
This writing platform was launched in 2006, and offers a free online storytelling community where users can post articles, stories, fan fiction, poems and more, using either the website or the Wattpad app. Users can comment, like stories, and join groups.
Wattpad stories with the most upvotes appear in the What’s Hot list and get greater exposure, while a Featured Story list promotes content approved by staff and championed by their in-house editorial review board. Wattpad also runs several contests a year, for both poetry and fiction.
The writing environment itself is uncluttered, and nice to work in — after creating your story, you fill out its details (title, cover image, tags, maturity rating, etc) and are taken to a clean, distraction-free screen to write out your story. No fancy fonts and only basic formatting (bold, underline, italic), but you can add images or video.
That said, Wattpad does have its disadvantages as a writing platform. Despite its efforts to break away from the ‘fan fiction’ label, it’s still seen as an immature platform compared with others. A glance at the homepage after you register shows you a lot of romance, fanfiction and anime — although it does have categories for humour, action, urban and werewolf (if this is your jam, I totally get you. Werewolves are freakin’ cool).
Wattpad: Pros and cons
If you write serials or fanfiction, and want to reach a thriving community of thousands of readers quickly, Wattpad is a good start.
But if you’re looking for a ‘serious’ author website, want to keep your work private or need a writing environment with more features, look elsewhere.
Movellas’ tagline is ‘read stories for free online’: this is not an author-centric platform. It concentrates on the reading experience — and that’s great if you want to build a fanbase. Authors upload stories and then can interact with readers through comments, upvotes, the forum, and also with Mumbles: a Twitter-like microblogging stream.
Writing platform Movellas recently introduced audiobook hosting, which is innovative and great if you’re good at reading aloud your own work. It works like Wattpad, as you enter your story details, then add text chapter by chapter. Formatting is again limited, but popular stories get exposure on ‘what’s new’ and ‘popular’ sections of the homepage, as well as regular contests.
Movellas: Pros and cons
Movellas has a younger audience than Wattpad, and while there does seem to be even more romance on offer it’s of a softer sort. It also has an app, so its readers can browse on the go — so if you’re looking to break into YA or experiment with audiobooks, Movellas is an interesting platform to explore.
But, if you’re looking to write in a more hardboiled genre or need a more mature audience, it’s probably not right for you.
Beloved by hipsters, breeding ground of GIFs, Tumblr is a Yahoo blogging site which has steadily grown in popularity. Users create posts in much the same way as a traditional blog, except Tumblr has a focus on aesthetics: they offer a wide array of free and premium themes, so font junkies look no further.
Tumblr has no groups, but users can communicate using the Ask feature, or by liking or reblogging posts. Curated Tumblrs gain massive followings with no original content at all, and other blogs are nothing but the authors’ own work: writing, photography, recipes, design, and more.
There are no writing contests or staff picks, but several well known authors love Tumblr, including John Green and Neil Gaiman, and the NaNoWriMo community there is huge. Although it might seem tough gathering a following with no forums or groups, Tumblr fans are very active and reblogs spread like wildfire.
Tumblr: Pros and cons
Use Tumblr if you’re more concerned about publishing your writing in a non-competitive space or keeping it private, love fiddling with themes and layouts, or want to connect with like-minded individuals in a very narrow genre.
If you’re looking for a lot of casual readers who’ll be able to stumble across your work, Tumblr is not ideal — and if you’re looking for a writing platform that organises your work into books, lets you upload cover art and tags and things like that, Tumblr doesn’t do that either. It functions a lot more like a ‘real’ website, and you can use your own custom domain — which is perfect for setting up your online author presence later on.
It really depends on what you need to do and write, but every platform has its pros and cons, upsides and downsides.
With each of these services there are no tests to pass or barriers to entry: simply sign up, write, and start getting fans. What are you waiting for?