Trigger warnings: when the readers should be informed


Ever picked up a book and found yourself suddenly face-to-face with heavy stuff that left you feeling uneasy? That’s where trigger warnings swoop in like literary superheroes, giving you a heads-up about potentially tough content. While there is a fat list of trigger warnings, here are the most common and examples of their implementations:

1. Graphic Violence

This chapter contains graphic violence, including detailed descriptions of intense physical harm. Reader discretion is advised.

2. Sexual Assault or Abuse

This section discusses non-consensual sexual acts. Take care while reading.

4. Mental Health Challenges

The following chapters delve into mental health challenges, portraying characters navigating psychological struggles.

5. Substance Abuse

This section contains depictions of drug and alcohol abuse. Reader discretion is advised.

6. Explicit Sexual Content

Detailed descriptions of sexual acts is included in this chapter. Reader discretion is recommended.

7. Racism or Discrimination

This chapter addresses racial and discriminatory themes. Please be aware of potential emotional impact.

8. Child Abuse

This section includes depictions of harm or neglect towards children. Approach with sensitivity.

Why should authors use trigger warnings?

Reader Well-being

Each reader has their own sensitive spot, a personal ‘taboo.’ Picture speeding towards your destination, full of excitement, only to encounter a roadblock after investing hours – all because a warning sign that could have guided you onto a smoother path wasn’t put up.

It could potentially ruin your day. 

Trigger warnings are there to say, “Hey, look out! We’re about to talk about something heavy.”

Empathy and Understanding

Authors who use trigger warnings are basically saying, “I get it, readers. Let’s go on this journey together, and I want you to feel safe.” It’s like having a storyteller who cares about your feelings and wants you to enjoy the ride without unexpected bumps.

Informed Choices

Ever wish you had a spoiler alert for your emotions? Trigger warnings do just that! They give you a sneak peek so you can decide if you’re up for the emotional rollercoaster or if you need to take a breather.

Trauma Sensitivity

Acknowledging the potential triggering effect certain content may have on individuals with past traumatic experiences, provides a more compassionate reading experience for any such individuals. They’re like a virtual nod saying, “We know this might hit close to home, so you can decide if you’re ready for it.”

Taking The State Of Mind Into Consideration

People have different reactions to the books they read, and as such, there will be several reactions to triggers. Telling the readers what they’re getting into beforehand helps give a kickstart into preparing, all the while maintaining the safe place that they have found in the books they read.


Not everyone is on board with trigger warnings. Some worry about how it might take away from the surprise of the story, give away too much, desensitization, the balance between over protection and consideration, the artistic freedom of writers to truly express themselves, and the reaction of readers to consistent warnings across every book.

It is important to note that trigger warnings are not spoilers, and they do not share the twists or turns of events in the story. More importantly,  the benefits of promoting mental well-being and inclusivity of readers far outweigh these concerns.

How To Implement?

Authors can seamlessly integrate trigger warnings into their work by placing them at the beginning of chapters or sections containing potentially sensitive content. This ensures readers are adequately prepared without revealing specific plot details.


If you strongly believe a warning could save your readers from stress or harm, go for it. Books are every reader’s safe space. Help them feel that way. Walk them through it, if need be.

There’s nothing as jarring as getting ejected from a book you love because you can’t seem to get over a scene that’s too much for you to handle or reading things that cannot be unseen.

Have more questions?

Advice and answers from the AlphaNovel Team

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