Tap is a new kind of app where the worlds of fiction and text messages combine. Could writing group chat stories help you make a name for yourself?
Ever dreamed of gaining a worldwide following for your writing, but worry about finding the time to hammer out a novel? Maybe Tap, a new app by online writing platform Wattpad, is the answer you’ve been looking for. Tap’s premise is ingeniously simple: it lets anyone read and write stories that play out like fictitious smartphone chats. Tap the screen, and another line of chat appears, the story – and the characters – unravelling one text at a time.
Is it the future of fiction? And could Tap help you find literary fame, right from your phone? We caught up with Tarun Sachdeva at Tap to find out…
One new message
“Wattpad’s been at the forefront of social storytelling for over a decade,” Tarun says as she discusses Tap’s origins. “The Wattpad app has been downloaded millions of times, and it now has 60 million people reading and writing stories about the things they love.
“But we’re always trying to give writers new ways to tell their story,” she adds, “and we know how much storytellers and audiences love interaction throughout the storytelling process.”
And it’s with that in mind – not to mention the explosion in popularity of phone-based messaging apps and group chats – that the Wattpad team first dreamed up Tap. “Chat-based stories felt like a natural evolution in storytelling,” Tarun explains, “so we created Tap to explore that space.”
That was back in February this year, and to say that the app has gone down well with the web’s voracious readers and writers since is a bit of an understatement. Tarun says there are “hundreds of thousands” of stories now on the app, and that the app has racked up “more than 2 billion taps.”
“People are obsessed with this type of story,” Tarun says, “because it lets us dive into short chat-style stories in a voice and format that you can’t find anywhere else.”
The future of fiction?
Ok, let’s get lofty: are text chats and apps like Tap changing our reading habits? It’s too easy to look at the app’s short-form, emoji-laden writing and cast aspersions about our modern-day attention spans, but Tarun says that’s exactly the point:
“We all lead very busy lifestyles and are pretty spoiled when it comes to consuming content. With Tap, people are able to get stuck into an entertaining story-telling experience that matches any mood, and fits any amount of free time they may have.”
Tap’s taking things seriously too, with new features and ways to let the very best stories rise to the top:
“We recently launched ‘Tap Originals’, which immerses readers further with more interactive elements like video calls from characters, sound, images, choose-your-own-endings and weekly releases of premium stories, developed in partnership with top writers.”
And it’s Tarun’s use of the phrase ‘top writers’ that has us most intrigued. Could Tap be the best place for busy writers to hone their craft and gain a following?
“Writers are definitely finding fame using Tap,” she says. “In fact, we’ve even commissioned some of our Wattpad Stars to write stories for Tap Originals, which is giving them both a new channel to grow their following and a new way to make money out of their writing.
“The Wattpad Stars program allows writers to discover new ways to make money from their work by doing what they love the most – writing stories. ‘Stars’ can do this in a few ways: they can work with brands to create stories that resonates with their audiences [called Brand Stories]; work with publishers to get their finished stories to bookshelves; or work with entertainment companies to bring their stories to the screen. The Stars program gives writers a unique opportunity to take their writing to the next level.
“Writers are definitely finding fame using Tap.”
“Tap, meanwhile, makes it easy for people to find an audience and write about what they love,” Tarun adds. “We definitely think there’s potential for people to become professional writers by dabbling with Tap and Wattpad, and we’ve even had authors who’ve had their work professionally published after writing successful stories for the platform.”
Keen to give it a go? Tarun has a couple of top tips for budding Tap stars.
“I recommend reading some of our most popular stories on Tap to get a sense of what resonates. Our horror genre does really well due to the suspense factor of chat-style stories [think: someone in a group chat reveals a sinister secret, as an example]. But my biggest piece of advice to new writers would be: don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. And to have fun with your stories!”
And, with Tap only going from strength to strength, it’s a great time to jump on board:
“As both Tap and mobile technology evolve,” Tarun says, “you can expect us to continue exploring how storytelling on mobile phones can be even more immersive and interactive. The future fiction will definitely have a huge focus on immersing the reader and increasingly personalised experiences.