From Writing Fanfictions on Wattpad to the Big Screen

When I was 12, I came across an online community in which anyone could write and read stories for free. I instantly became obsessed with the site, or more specifically the fanfiction stories that at the time seemed to dominate the platform. Fast-forward seven years and the site has taken over the world of writing, giving young and new writers a chance to become not only published authors, but also turn their books into television shows and movies. If you didn’t already catch on, the popular site is Wattpad.

Over the past seven years, Wattpad has grown from a small community of aspiring authors to a network of writers breaking barriers left and right. From the Watty Awards to a new opportunity that gives writers the chance to get paid for their stories, Wattpad has changed since I first clicked on and read the first version of My Life with the Walter Boys by Ali Novak. Now, stories I’ve come to love are turning into movies produced by Netflix and TV shows airing on Hulu, CW Seed, and SYFY.

In 2012, Beth Reekles turned her Wattpad story, The Kissing Booth, into a published novel, followed by two other notable books. The Kissing Booth, which had garnered over 19 million reads before its publication with Random House, was a sensation and in 2018 was adapted into a Netflix original movie. It became an overnight success, making it the most re-watched film on Netflix in 2018. However, the movie wouldn’t have become such a hit without a 15-year-old’s Wattpad story of a teen girl falling in love with her best friend’s brother. Cliché, yes, but the loyal readers from over seven years ago loved it.

Courtesy: IMDB

When I was first introduced to Wattpad, fanfiction stories ranked the highest in most genres. However, Anna Todd paved the way for future fanfictions with her story After. The original Wattpad version of After followed One Direction star Harry Styles in an AU, or alternate universe, story as he fell in love with freshman college student Tessa Young. The After series became the most read series on Wattpad with over one billion reads, landing Anna a publishing deal and eventually a film deal with Paramount Pictures.

In November of 2018, the first Aviron Pictures After trailer was released and fans were introduced to Hardin Scott (the name was changed in the novel) and Tessa Young in the film, played by Hero Fiennes Tiffin and Josephine Langford. The steamy, dramatic film is set to open in theaters on April 12, 2019, and fans, including myself, can’t wait.

As writers on Wattpad continued to build their online presence, Wattpad Stars, a program that commissions the top writers who really engage audiences and want to take their writing even further, was introduced in 2015. Writers like Beth Reekles and Anna Todd were among the first few to become Wattpad Stars, as they were the first generation of writers to take the platform to the next level.

At this time, Wattpad writer and now Florida State University senior Mikaela Bender was writing the Expiration Date series and didn’t imagine her science fiction series to skyrocket to over 18 million reads. In 2016, she wrote in an anthology called Once Upon Now with other popular Wattpad writers that opened up a few doors for her. Mikaela had later been invited to join the Wattpad Stars program, giving Expiration Date the opportunity to be in the running for a project with Wattpad Studios and partners. In 2018, Mikaela was told that Expiration Date would undergo a process to become a digital pilot for the SYFY Network.

Courtesy: Mikaela Bender

Submissions for the digital pilot flew in, as filmmakers were given the chance to pitch how they would create Expiration Date as a digital series. SYFY, partnered with Tongal and Wattpad, chose three finalists to produce their own version of a series trailer. In late 2018, Kristen Brancaccio won with her trailer “Resistance” and will be directing the digital pilot that will be released in early 2019. Cupid’s Match written by Lauren Palphreyman went through a similar process back in 2017 with CW Seed after it had gone viral with now over 46 million reads on Wattpad.

Wattpad, just like any other platform, is constantly evolving and growing, opening up even more opportunities for young writers to either publish their stories or turn it into the next Netflix original movie. Either way, I’ll be the one fangirling on the edge of my seat.