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!

A Very Long Post About A Star Wars Prequel Theory

Hello!

This is kind of random, but this morning my wife and I were discussing this and so I thought it would make a good post. I don’t remember specifically how this came up, but we were discussing how the Star Wars prequels are absolutely hated by some, and don’t seem to be very good to a lot of people. And I guess the following would also apply to the sequels to a certain extent too, though I don’t think it’s necessary.

Without further ado, here is one way you can love the prequels, mentally let them fit within the Star Wars universe, and still think they don’t necessarily match with the original trilogy:

    First, it is necessary to enumerate a few things people find wrong with the prequels:
  • Everything looks shiny and new, not like a lived in universe

  • Jar Jar Binks

  • midichlorians

So let’s take a look at these in a moment. I first want to talk about how our actual history books, biographies, and folk tales speak about history here on Earth in our time.

In the past, American text books taught that the Native Americans were nothing but savages who were made civilized by the European settlers. We know now, and I suggest they probably knew then, that many times settlers came in and took and swindled the land from the tribes. Sometimes even worse was done.

And while I won’t go into the atrocities of the past, I just thought of the above as an example of one case, and only one of many, which very much shows that our view of history can change, based on who is doing the telling. Children in the early 1900s may have grown up thinking all native people were no more than evil savages, that the cowboys had rode in and saved the day and protected the poor settlers. Now, maybe children are taught a different view.

So has history changed? Of course it hasn’t. Have the events that have occurred in these two wildly different versions of history not happened? Some have–many have–but may be reported from a completely different point of view.

Which brings me to one theory that will let me, and maybe others, square the Star Wars prequels with the later films: They were being told from a different point of view. This explains away almost all, if not all, of the problems I noted above. So let me discuss those items one by one and see if I can explain this better.

Everything is too shiny and new looking. Well, yes. Say you go to any major city in the world and you ask someone living in a poor neighborhood to describe things. They may describe how hard it is to find jobs, how their neighborhood is messy and houses are falling down, how there are so many people who want nothing more than to take away their ability to just survive day to day. Ask someone living in a very wealthy neighborhood and they may describe the sports venues, the nice parks, the great restaurants, the wealth of entertainment options. They are telling about the same city, but from their own point of view.

Jar Jar Binks. I have to admit, this one is more difficult to fit into this theory. But I came up with two ways.

One possibility is that many events took place that seemed very random, and whoever wrote this particular view of history ascribed them all to one person, Jar Jar Binks. There have been cases in history of people being credited for a lot of things they did not do, only because they got a reputation for something. So maybe in this case, Jar Jar was a goofy weirdo who was very lucky, so all the weird stuff got assigned to him.

Another theory is that there was one person who was there for many of these same, strange things that Jar Jar was, did the things he did, but that the person doing the telling didn’t like that historical person, so sought to either downplay him or make him look a fool. This, also, has happened in the past. Or the present.

Midichlorians. This one seems to me to be the one most likely to fit into this theory.

Look at it like an eclipse. In the past it was thought by many societies that an eclipse was a sign that the gods were angry. Some societies thought it was some kind of evil omen. We know now that it is just a typical astronomical event, easily explained by intelligent scientists, and even by school children now.

So what is different from now to what it was then? Point of view. We now have the advantage of an acquired knowledge base that has been accrued over the centuries. Back then they did not, so they looked to what they knew and understood to explain what was going on in the world. Midichlorians are just the attempt by the person giving their report of history (the prequels era), and their attempt to describe how the force works. This is just like the way these ancient societies attempted to describe an eclipse.

So, one way to look at all of this is the way I look at older history books, and that is: sometimes they can be entertaining and informative, but perspective matters. I don’t look at the history books I had in school as the definitive way things actually happened. They were one point of view that is being given in one book with the given amount of information available at the time it was written.

I know that we know more now about electronics and medicine now, for example, than we did even when I was a kid. So is it unfair to completely ignore everything that was in a text book when I was young? No. Just because my textbooks in school didn’t give a complete description of human DNA, it doesn’t mean that what we did learn about it wasn’t, at least in some ways, accurate from the perspective of the time. Now we may know more.

Star Wars is like that, given that the prequels were written by someone with a completely different set of knowledge and different circumstance than the original trilogy. So maybe the prequels were written by someone who was wealth and lived on Naboo, and maybe the original trilogy was written by a survivor from Aleraan. These people would necessarily have a different perspective.

Have a good weekend!

Nearing The End

Hi everyone!

I’m closing in on my current work in progress. I’m so close to the end that I can actually visualize myself typing “the end” there. I want so badly to just get the thoughts from my head onto the page so I can go back through and do revisions.

Alas, typing takes time.

Just because I know where the story is going and how it gets there, it doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve thought through all the words to describe each event correctly. Also, there’s one event coming that I need to think about/do some research on so that I get the details pretty close to right, because it will most definitely matter to the story.

Ugh.

But I’m getting there!

And then I can take a fresh look at my previous WIP before doing final revisions on it.

It never ends, but that’s a good thing.

So onto other thoughts…

I’ve been listening to audio books while I get ready for the day, do laundry, cook, even while I write sometimes. This is something I’ve done for a while now, just as a way to disengage my mind from the actual work of writing. Believe it or not, I think better when there are steady outside distractions like that. One bang distracts me. Constant drumming and I’m in the zone. Sometimes it’s music, sometimes a movie in the background (Often one of the Star Wars films, or possibly Phantom of the Opera), and sometimes it’s an audio book. Lately it’s been the audio book.

The thing about it is, I listened to a book that I didn’t know until later was a sequel/companion book to a completely different book that I’ve never read before. It was wonderful, engaging, and a very good book. So much so, that when I discovered it was a sequel/companion book, I hurried to find the original.

I’ve been listening to it.

It’s good. It is not amazing. This kind of seems strange to me, because a lot of what is unique about the one I read first (which was the sequel/companion book) is told from another character’s point of view. This book is the same events, as well as some additional one, from the point of view of the character whom all these unique things are taking place. You would think that would make this a great way to read a book, because I got the less detailed version first, then read the more detailed version. Instead, it seemed (most of the way through) kind of dead in comparison.

It has gotten better as it has gone, for sure. This makes me wonder if the story was started in the wrong point, or if the character is less likable, or what.

How can a story told from the other person’s point of view be so much more engaging than when the same story is told from the point of view of the character most affected?

It has made me wonder about some of my own stories. Would Faerie Queen have been better if told from Cecilia’s point of view? Would the Non-Vampire stories have been better from Jessica’s? It has me doubting my current story, as well, though it is actually a dual POV.

I don’t know. I do know the original book (not the sequel/companion book) is still a good book, but it seems flat in comparison. So maybe part of it is the lack of newness to the events. I know that has to be part of it. But I also just think the other character was a better narrator for that particular story. It is just interesting to see.

I’m going to go contemplate the mortality of the crab. Everyone have a great weekend!