Trigger and Content warnings:
I can understand the need to warn readers that the work may have a disturbing event in an article or story. Unfortunately, disturbing things like violence, rape, and abuse are part of life. Even if they all ended tomorrow, there’s still plenty of people carrying scars. Even in the future when we are all gone, you cannot fully understand an era or people if you are ignorant of how violence or the threat affects people.
So these things will remain in our psyche for a long time. Ignoring them will not make them go away. In fact, ignoring them leaves victims less able to react in disbelief and shock. Nor does it provide ideas or hope. Better to show survival and coping, that being a victim is not the end.
Trigger and content warnings allow people who have issues with a particular trauma skip over sections or an entire story. It is a kindness, a bit of the golden rule, and good business. Kindness that a trauma isn’t refreshed. A golden rule as you don’t need people picking at painful areas for mere amusement. And really good buisiness for a writer. Fool me once, slipping in a trauma I wasn’t ready for and YOU are the abuser. I will leave a comment sometimes, I won’t be back for more stories, and I will not recommend it.
Tags and warnings are important.
But warnings spoil my story! How can I shock or surprise my readers if I tell them bad things are about to happen? It will weaken my story, real life doesn’t warn you! Stories, older stories don’t have warnings!
You just have to deal with it. Older stories were far less graphic, things that need content warnings were mentioned in euphamisms and happened off camera. The character will still be surprised their hand is amputated by the villain, the reader will still feel their shock and pain, so the warning will not harm your target reader who likes angst, and it gives a fair chance for readers bothered by that violence to skip over a section. It’s a win-win, for a tiny bit of spoilery if handled well, you don’t tick off readers.
Okay, Okay. I’ll put warnings in, but I’ll put them at the end of the chapter in the footnotes so it doesn’t spoil the story… They can skip to the end of the chapter to see the warning, then its their own fault.
Now that is just cruel. (and a little obsessive about refusing to warn) You care so little for the readers, you think they want to skip back and forth because you are too lazy to properly tag and do a postscript half-a apology for being offensive? You do not respect their agency, and think lying by omission is just great. It’s not that important and the story is SO good they won’t care. Don’t fool yourself, you are breaking their trust with this deceit. If you cannot be honest why should I have to zig zag, when you missed the meaning of ‘warning?’
Warning tags won’t stop people who trust your tags are accurate or don’t care, but do you really want to alienate those who do care about their pain? (they have money to, young author) Tag your stories.