Fandom Writing: The Importance of Trigger Warnings

WARNING:  This post mentions several triggering subjects in the course of covering Trigger Warnings.  

There has always been a debate on the use of trigger warnings..  Triggers are words and or images that can trigger adverse reactions in people who have suffered trauma or have various anxiety disorders. It also extends to things that people know, without having the anxiety, that they don’t care to see/here because its just not something they want to digest/handle.  People over the years have developed the idea of ‘Trigger Warnings’ to help people who have issues with these things avoid them, or at least be prepared to handle them if they still continue on.

Trigger warnings are important.  The debate on trigger warnings is that some people believe they are over used, and warning about things a person should be able to handle.  Others believe that not using it is showing a lack of compassion against those who have problems with triggers.  I am in the middle on this argument.  I believe common sense warnings about possible triggers is important and should be done.  However, if someone doesn’t write a trigger for something its not right to say they are not compassionate.  Perhaps it something they are unaware of being a trigger.

The common sense triggers are often built into archives.  Violence, character death, etc.  And it is already common to put tags to express when a fic has sexual content.  Its important to put these messages because not everyone is okay with everything.  Even if its not a trigger, some people simply don’t want to read smut, or want fluff only and no violence.  They might not want to read something descriptive in gore, or deals with a particular event or activity that makes them uncomfortable.

One of the generic ones is gore.  Some people don’t like the sight of blood or any other bodily fluid.  Sometimes its because an particular event, and sometimes it is just something the person knows they don’t like to see.  I used to have trouble remembering to tag these on posts because I wouldn’t think something was gorey, but then I would get messages asking for the tag.

If you are writing something that includes a sensitive topic, its a good idea to tag it, or make a warning in your chapter notes.  While you might not have a problem with it, or feel its important to your story, some people may just need to avoid that for their own personal reasons.   I have known people who refuse to tag stuff like this because they feel it gives the story away, but it would make it so much easier for people to avoid situations where they might be triggered.  It’s a courtesy to your readers. At the vary least it allows those who are picky about what they read the time to decide if your story will be one they choose.  It will also help those who have severe reactions to certain triggers to avoid them.

I think the fact that I have an anxiety disorder myself I understand the trigger system.  I am not triggered by anything written, but I can sympathise with those who are.  Sometimes surprise is not a good thing. So just take a few moments when you post your stories to think if there is anything worth tagging, anything that might trigger anxiety in people.  Things you should tag include sexual violence (including dubious consent), fertility issues (like miscarriage and stillbirth), detailed violence and torture.  Respect requests for added tags as well.

 

Bookit Review: Blue-Eyed Devil

Title: Blue-Eyed Devil (Travis series #2)
Bookit #8
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Release Date:  2008
Medium: Kindle E-book

WARNING:  This novel covers topics that may cause triggering effects on those who suffered from physical or mental abuse.

Blue-eyed Devil is the second novel in the Travis Series by Liza Kleypas.  I was looking forward to this book, because Hardy had been one of my favorite characters in the first book I read, Brown-Eyed Girl, and he is the hero in this novel after being the one who lost in book 1, Sugar Daddy.

The main character in this novel is Haven Travis, the youngest sibling of the Travis Clan.  It starts soon after the closing of Sugar Daddy in that they are attending Liberty and Gage (the couple from book 1)’s wedding.  It is there she meets Hardy, and it leaves a lasting impression on her.

This book is a little different from romance novels that I have seen in the past, because it involves a couple who faced domestic abuse.  It also deals with the problems children who have faced domestic abuse might have as adults.  I was glad to see that for the most part Haven ends up saving herself, rather than her love interest.  Often times I have seen this written as a ploy to get the two main characters together, and in this novel it’s not.  She is also allowed to get help when she needs it, and not having it forced on her or denied her like some narratives are prone to do.

In fact, their romance, baring the moment at the wedding, doesn’t even start till after Haven removes herself from the abusive relationship.  It also doesn’t look down on therapy, and has really good sibling relationships.  One of the stronger themes in this series is the relationships between the main character (always female) and her siblings.  Book one was about Liberty and her sister Carrington.  This is about Haven and her relationship with her brothers.  Brown-Eyed Girl (book 4) is about Avery and her half-sister Sophia.

This series also has a good record in showing mixed families.  Not everyone’s family is perfect, and not every perfect family is a bad family.  There are single parents, distant parents, parents who were both there, and parents who realised they couldn’t care for their children so they gave them up for adoption.

I also found this relatable because I have dealt with people who are narcissistic in nature, and I have seen the problems they cause for the people around them. I’m not sure I believe the therapist in this story who says abusers are always narcissistic.

Overall, I give this a A, because it had good pacing, the main character manages to save herself half the time, and people deal with their issues instead of having instant cures. However, this book has references to domestic abuse, both physical and mental, as well as rape.  Therefore I suggest you avoid this one if any of those subjects might be triggering for you.