Content & Trigger Warnings
The door is unlocked, just come in and sit somewhere; I will be there in a moment just getting changed—awk—ugh—ahhhh— stupid tail, just go away already!
Whatever—maybe they won't notice.
Good morning, so happy you all could make it. Now let's just get the weird elephant in the room out of the way so we can move on to the important things. Yes, I know I have a green tiger's tale; it's not a real tiger's tale; it's not like I can magically transform into animals or anything; that is just silly. But since I know you are wondering why it is there—well, it is kind of embarrassing, but I am not ashamed; it is a butt plug tail.
There, I said it. My girlfriend Raven and I were into some really kinky stuff last night, and well—it's stuck.
There, now you know. None of your damn business, but now you know, and we can move right along into why you are here today.
I ran a poll and question on Twitter a few weeks back about this very thing. I also have had a few good talks with several authors about it. It is one of those topics that seem to be very divided on whether they are needed or not.
Now let me say, this is a tough one for me myself. I personally hate the idea of content warning. I have hated them in tv shows and movies, and even more so when they had to start putting them on cd covers. I have never, ever been a fan, and that still stands today. I like them even less on books.
After seeing the feedback from others and having several in-depth conversations about the topic, even though I still don't like them, I do have a better understanding of why some people use them and why some readers would like them on books.
Let me explain a bit more from both sides, and since my side is from the dislike, I will start with that. Now, remember this is entirely opinion and feeling about the topic. Also, hold your judgments until the end, please.
Now it seems me and others dislike warning because it is beginning to feel like that's all the world is becoming lately. Warnings, labels, point and blame at every corner for every single thing that might be mildly disturbing or offensive or unfavorable to some.
Though it is not truly censorship, it does have the untoned feeling of it. It feels like having to handhold with every now, even books. And I very much dislike that thought and feeling.
This is where I learned to open up to the idea a bit with a level of understanding from the other side of the coin.
My trauma isn't your trauma or someone else's. How I have dealt with life and not let the bad affect me and how others handle it are different. Trauma is very real, and yes, just reading certain scenes in a fictional book can trigger emotions of said traumas, leading to a horrible time and potential downward spiral for said person.
Now, if there was a content warning at the bottom of the description, the reader could have looked at it to see if certain topics were there that might very well trigger them. From there, it is their call to processed or move on.
Let's look at this in a few different ways
If you have very suggestive themes in your book that might very well trigger someone to have a bad light about the book, what do you think might happen? There is a good to fair chance, 1, they will leave a negative review, which hurts you more than a content warning ever will. 2, they likely will never read anything you write again. Which you might tell yourself, 'my stuff wasn't for them anyway." Which is likely true, but they might have told others about your book that they thought might like them. But now—maybe not so much. 3, what harm does it do to you? Really? What harm does providing a small trigger warning of specific themes at the bottom of the description do negatively towards you? The answer is none, not a single thing, other than irk you because you don't want to do it. Believe me, I know.
Now, let's step back a second and ask, What is a content warning?
This is again where things get controversial and heated sometimes.
What do you write? How much warning and for every little thing?
And again, this is something that bothered me too. My books are all very dark-themed, killing, rape, pedophilia, kidnapping, torture, graphic violence and sex, drug and alcohol use, foul language, and so on and so forth.
So, how much warning do you give before you ruin the book? Here's the thing, you're never going to please everyone with this because there are some very prudent people out there that will be offended no matter what you warn against and don't.
My thoughts are, pick the big ones; the ones that you know deep down are rough topics, i.e., rape, pedophilia, graphic sex, over-the-top graphic killing/violence, racial slurs, etc.
I would think if you stuck to those kinds of big things, you will be fine. It likely will save you from a few bad reviews and gives your sensitive readers a chance to avoid something they wouldn't like anyway. So, in the end, it is kind of win/win.
Now, this is, of course, 100% up to you if you use a warning or not. No one can make you. But I'd like you to think about this for a moment if you will.
At the end of the day, you are putting your work out there for people to read, to hopefully enjoy, right?
In short, if you have dark and over graphic scenes in your books, content warning might be a wise choice to add at the bottom of the description. In the next 3 to 5 years, I would suspect it will become standard practice and possibly something amazon and other bookselling sites will force anyway.
Right, now that that is out of the way. I need you all to leave so I can figure out why this tail isn't disappearing—erm—I mean, try to take it out of my butt—cause it's not real—I need to call Robin, he'll know what to do.
Indie author of the week
2/21/2021 07:23:13 pm
Spot on James. I'm pro 'content warnings' but never considered they will probably become mandatory in the future.
I am pro content warning but not in excessive way. I think it's important for the reasons and topics you mentioned. Mainly for those things that could trigger trauma that you may not experience but your readers could very well experience.
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