Commentary

Why We Shouldn’t Be Fighting Over Trigger Warnings

Screen shot of an article about Snow White with a content notice about torture and self mutilation.

This notice about Disney Princess origin stories alerts some people they may not like the content, while getting others interested with a morbidly intriguing teaser.

Here at Mythcreants, we’re not afraid to go to battle for something we believe in. But some things shouldn’t be a fight – there’s no real reason to fight over them. So it is with trigger warnings. In case you’ve missed all the debate, a trigger warning is some text you might see at the beginning of a piece of writing that alerts readers about dark subject matter featured in the text, for example, sexual assault.

However, I think calling them “trigger warnings” is already misleading. It reinforces a specific assumption about the people who want these warnings (they have PTSD) and a specific assumption about the effect that the content being labeled has on them (they will be triggered). These assumptions may be true, but if you’re a writer who needs to choose whether to use these notices, it doesn’t matter. Debates over the psychological effects of content are red herrings that prevent us from seeing this issue for what it is.

Read more »

Storytelling

Understanding Character Karma

Lady Justice sits with her sword, holding up her scales

Character karma is a useful concept that helps us understand how to craft stories that are engaging and satisfying. While I’ve mentioned the concept in many other places, it’s overdue for a full article on the ways it affects our stories. First, what is character … read more »