Pondering Trigger Warnings

So hi. How are things?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about trigger warnings in books.

A trigger warning would be a warning if something, such as a rape, were going to happen in the story which could cause severe distress to the reader. I agree with the idea, but I’m just wondering how much of this an author should actually be accountable for.

I agree with warnings on things like rape, or if the story covers a particularly tragic event that many people were affected by, such as the terrorists attacks in 2001. But I don’t know every trigger I should point out. How far would I go with it?

To illustrate what I’m talking about, I compiled this partial list (in no particular order) of common trigger warnings from various sites around the intertubes:

  • Mental health or mental illness
  • Eating disorders
  • Racism
  • Police brutality
  • Suicide
  • Ableism
  • Violence
  • Rape
  • Self harm
  • Swearing
  • Fatism
  • Bigotry
  • Sexism
  • Pro or anti-LGBTQ content
  • Sexually explicit material
  • Islamophobia
  • Shooting
  • War
  • Abusive Relationships
  • Alcoholism
  • Spiders
  • Animal Abuse
  • Blood
  • Corpses
  • Death
  • Classism
  • Decapitation
  • Drug use
  • Holocost denial or belief
  • Poisoning
  • Slavery
  • Snakes
  • Amputation
  • Smoking
  • Vomit

So yeah, that’s just a very small sample.

And I can see from just that list that my trigger warnings could get quite long. How much of this is/should actually assumed ahead of time based on the genre and known content of a novel?

The reason I ask that is because I noticed while creating my list above that some of my books would need quite an extensive list of those. Just the Non-Vampire series alone, for example, could require warnings for suicidal thoughts, swearing, pro-LGBTQ content, shooting, abusive relationships, animal abuse (maybe?), blood, corpses, death, decapitation, amputation, and probably many more. That’s not exactly an extensive list above, either. I found many, many more that I didn’t include here.

So how many of those I mentioned would be sort of hinted at by the fact that the word vampire is in the name of the series? Blood seems obvious. Corpses and death, too. Swearing seems kind of assumed in anything YA these days, but there isn’t exactly an extensive amount of it in these books. There are obviously some things here that overlap, and I know a lot of trigger warnings do, but how far am I really responsible for?

I really want to know. I would love to be able to include a reasonable amount, because I would never want to cause a reader problems that could arise if they come across something particularly perturbing for them. I’m still thinking about this.

So far I have assumed a certain amount of death and blood would be expected in book dealing with vampires, and anything else I feel may be a problem I usually explain in the story description. For example, I don’t specifically warn about pro-LGBTQ content in the description, but I do mention that my main character is gay. Is that enough, though, or should there be a specific warning?

I’ve just been thinking about this, because I want to do a better job of pointing out if my book contains anything too distressing. I’ll keep thinking about this, because I think at times it could be important.

Have a wonderful weekend!

8 thoughts on “Pondering Trigger Warnings”

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