A popular self-publishing platform is playing host to a unique type of teen fiction: stories that deal with fictional school shootings.
Vox reported Tuesday that Wattpad, a website used by writing luminary Margaret Atwood, typically hosts teen-written stories about the former members of One Direction and others like it. But users also write and post stories about school shootings, often from the perspective of would-be heroes who die in the line of fire.
One story, titled "The School Shooting," follows a male narrator as he recounts his last hours of normalcy before a shooter opens fire in his high school and he takes a bullet while saving the day.
"The narrator comforts his sobbing girlfriend, telling her everything will be okay as they hide in their classroom," the report summarized. "As the faceless shooter approaches, the narrator attacks him, taking down the shooter and saving lives, but taking a stray bullet in the process."
Other stories on Wattpads "#schoolshooting" tag illustrate the horror of being unarmed and afraid and detail escape routes and hiding places. Most begin either with the sound of gunshots or an intercom announcement about an active shooter, the report noted.
"The identities of the shooters rarely matter in school shooting fiction; when the shooters are given attention, they tend to comment on the anxieties of school life and the pressure to perform," Vox's report continued. "In one story, a school shooter’s attempt to explain how hard the pressure of his life has been is so compelling that after he dies, the narrator picks up the gun and continues the shooting spree himself."
"No one knew who it was," one of the stories read, describing its shooter. "Frankly, no one cared.”
The flip side of the school shooter stories, the report continued, is the Columbine fanfiction.
"This is the most popular variant of school shooting fiction on Wattpad, to the extent that it almost functions as a separate genre," Vox's Aja Romano wrote. "Modern teens continue to be fixated with Columbine, but most of the 800 stories associated with Columbine on Wattpad are more properly a form of what-if fanfiction that attempts to love, redeem, or empathize with the Columbine shooters."
"That sets Columbine fic well apart from most other Wattpad fiction," Romano continued, "which is concerned with processing theoretical shootings that haven’t happened yet."
Read the entire report on the strange world of school shooting fiction via Vox.