I love a good science fiction book.
Thanks to e-readers and the Internet, it’s never been easier and cheaper to find a good book. My Kindle has a dozen or so books that cost a dollar each.
Still, some of the best e-books are actually free, including a few on Amazon. Some of the best online free books are available to anyone with Internet access. No Kindle required.
Online storytelling communities have become all the rage among writing communities over the last few years. Authors can post writings that run the genre gamut, from fiction to non-fiction, suspense to self-help, it’s all there.
Writings appear as articles, stories, and poems, either through a website or app.
To be honest, I found one of my favorite storytelling communities, Wattpad, through my daughters.
“I want you to read my story,” daughter number one said.
“Great, print it out, and I’ll read it,” I said, like I was still reading books in the 20th century.
“No, it’s on Wattpad, and you have to vote on it,” she said. I’ll explain the voting thing in a second.
“What’s Wattpad?” I asked.
The beauty of Wattpad is less about free access to good (and some not-so-good) writing, and more about a community of readers and authors sharing their work, asking questions, and providing critiques.
My daughters have posted several stories and receive regular feedback from their readers, most of whom are friends from school. They offer suggestions on possible changes to a character, subplot ideas, and alternate endings.
The best stories rise to the top through votes. A vote simply suggests the reader likes the story. Getting a lot of votes improves the chances of having your work read by more community members.
Readers can share their favorite writings on other social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumbler. Or you can simply share it with a friend via email.
Don’t be fooled. Wattpad is not just for kids.
Some very famous authors have made their way to Wattpad in hopes of gaining new readers, to get feedback on works-in-progress, and to tease other work yet to be released.
One of Wattpad’s more famous champions is Margaret Atwood, author of best-selling books like “The Robber Bride,” “Onyx and Crake” and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the latter of which will be released as a television series on Hulu in April.
Atwood’s work on Wattpad is impressive. The opening to her 2015 book, “The Heart Goes Last,” is available for community members.
After spending some time with Wattpad over the last year, reading work from Atwood and the Earnheardt girls, it’s clear there’s a little something for everyone – from the new novelist to the seasoned storyteller.
Note: Atwood will deliver the YSU Skeggs Lecture on April 21 at Stambaugh Auditorium. Tickets are free and available at the Stambaugh box office.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is special assistant to the provost and professor of communication in the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA where he also directs the graduate program in professional communication. He researches and writes on a variety of topics including communication technologies, relationships, and sports (with an emphasis on fandom). His work has appeared in Mahoning Matters as well as The Vindicator and Tribune-Chronicle newspapers.