If you want to get a group of authors to argue about something, ask them what they think about trigger warnings. Trust us: the debate will get feisty, and at least a few authors will storm off in disgust.
Back in the olden days (when I was a young reader), they didn’t have trigger warnings. You’d just be reading along in a book and BAM! Cheating, rape, murder, suicide, love triangles, abuse...it all happened without warning. I survived without too many mental scars. But these days if readers encounter that kind of thing and weren’t warned about it in the blurb, many folks can get downright salty about it in the reviews.
Some authors, on the other hand, argue that trigger warnings are nothing but plot spoilers and censorship. Others go as far as to argue that if a reader is especially sensitive and can be triggered by a great many things, many they shouldn’t be reading at all.
Personally, I can do with or without trigger warnings. As a person who read Say Goodbye by Lisa Gardner years ago and still occasionally has nightmares about the graphic depiction of child abuse, I can see the goal of a trigger warning. I don’t even have any personal experience with child abuse, and I found this book to be horribly traumatic. If I was a victim, I’m afraid this book might have sent me off the rails in a bad, bad way. And the book, to this day, doesn’t have a trigger warning. (I can guarantee you I wouldn’t have bought it if I’d read that there was a SUPER graphic depiction of child sexual abuse. It was awful.)
I would argue that as long as a trigger warning is general enough to not spoil the plot, what’s the harm in including it? If a simple trigger warning can save a reader the pain associated with reading something that hurts them emotionally or brings back hurtful memories, why would an author NOT want to include it?
But as usual, we’re more interested in YOUR opinion on the matter. What do y’all think?
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