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Does all horror need a content warning?

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CoachLisaB View Drop Down
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    Posted: 21 Jan 2023 at 4:12pm
I'm wondering this because I read one today that included something that is listed in the NYCM content warning list and would rather not have read it - but there wasn't a CW/TW. Then it occurred to me that maybe most of what we write about in horror could disturb someone. I've written horror twice and didn't include a content warning because I didn't consider the violence to be particularly graphic, but maybe I should have.

FYI, here's the link to the post about content warnings:
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote SDWatts Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jan 2023 at 4:23pm
I think the all horror is probably triggering to someone, so reading horror is agreeing to a certain kind of risk regarding disturbing content, but including a cw/tw lets the reader decide what specific kinds of  triggers they're agreeing to expose themselves to. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote taaaylor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jan 2023 at 4:23pm
As a general rule, I don't include content warnings to judges. I assume that 1) the judges are warned about what type of content is allowed to be submitted and 2) it's not worth risking losing points by including something that isn't technically the synopsis, title, or story itself. If NYCM added an optional line on the submittable form for content warnings, that would be great -- assuming that no one is penalized for not being aware a CW should be listed, as it's a somewhat new concept and people without trauma may have no awareness of what should or shouldn't be warned about.

I generally give TWs on posts for real-world trauma or phobias people can really experience. But for example, I wrote horror in round 1 of the rhyming contest, and the "horror" of my story was someone getting trapped in a haunted crossword chatroom. That isn't a real world trauma, so it didn't need a TW :)

I do think it's okay to request people to add trigger warnings. I've done it myself. If you want someone to ask for you, feel free to PM me a link

ETA: Here's another example of a classic horror story with no need for a TW:  https://www.americanfolklore.net/hairy-toe/


Edited by taaaylor - 21 Jan 2023 at 4:26pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote nod1v1ng Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jan 2023 at 4:56pm


All horror does not need a CW. Something to think about when writing horror is there is a difference between phobias and trauma. I wouldn't put a CW on a horror story about spiders, even though some readers might be arachnophobic. Horror historically leans on phobias to amp up fear. 

Same thing for paranormal horror. I wouldn't put a CW on a story about monster or ghosts, even though they can be scary. Horror is supposed to be scary. 

However, if your story, horror or otherwise, could potentially make a reader relive their own trauma, then a CW is worthwhile. If you feel like it might spoil the story, use the "spoiler" function (or put it in white text that a reader can highlight to reveal.) This way the reader can decide if they want to read the spoiler or not.

I feel like NYCm's guidance is reasonable for what subjects require a CW. But I agree with taaaylor that you can suggest someone adds one. If a reader makes the suggestion that you add one, then add it. It hurts no one, and might make a difference to someone's mental health.


 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Draiglas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 2023 at 9:32am
Originally posted by taaaylor taaaylor wrote:

 If NYCM added an optional line on the submittable form for content warnings, that would be great -- assuming that no one is penalized for not being aware a CW should be listed, as it's a somewhat new concept and people without trauma may have no awareness of what should or shouldn't be warned about.

There actually is! It's not on Submittable but when you go to the backup screen on the NYCM midnight page after submitting, they now say in the box for notes something like "Optionally, you may wish to include content warnings for the judges here". I have included content warnings when I don't think it's a massive spoiler in that box (e.g. for FF R4 I didn't since the twist was what caused the trigger warning, but for MF250, I did).

(For the forums, I always include content warnings regardless of twist on the basis that forum readers haven't signed up to read potentially traumatic stuff. I sometimes add non-required ones if I think it's necessary or polite).


Edited by Draiglas - 22 Jan 2023 at 9:35am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote CoachLisaB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 2023 at 8:27pm
Originally posted by taaaylor taaaylor wrote:

As a general rule, I don't include content warnings to judges. 


I generally give TWs on posts for real-world trauma or phobias people can really experience. 


I do think it's okay to request people to add trigger warnings. I've done it myself. If you want someone to ask for you, feel free to PM me a link

ETA: Here's another example of a classic horror story with no need for a TW:  https://www.americanfolklore.net/hairy-toe/

Thank you! I wouldn't consider a CW for the judges; definitely just wondering for the forums. I did suggest to the person that they might want to add a warning; thank you for offering, though! Now off to read the story you linked!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CoachLisaB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 2023 at 8:28pm
Originally posted by Draiglas Draiglas wrote:

There actually is! It's not on Submittable but when you go to the backup screen on the NYCM midnight page after submitting, they now say in the box for notes something like "Optionally, you may wish to include content warnings for the judges here". I have included content warnings when I don't think it's a massive spoiler in that box (e.g. for FF R4 I didn't since the twist was what caused the trigger warning, but for MF250, I did).

Cool! I never noticed it there.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CoachLisaB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 2023 at 8:33pm
Originally posted by nod1v1ng nod1v1ng wrote:

All horror does not need a CW. Something to think about when writing horror is there is a difference between phobias and trauma. I wouldn't put a CW on a horror story about spiders, even though some readers might be arachnophobic. Horror historically leans on phobias to amp up fear. 

Same thing for paranormal horror. I wouldn't put a CW on a story about monster or ghosts, even though they can be scary. Horror is supposed to be scary. 

However, if your story, horror or otherwise, could potentially make a reader relive their own trauma, then a CW is worthwhile. If you feel like it might spoil the story, use the "spoiler" function (or put it in white text that a reader can highlight to reveal.) This way the reader can decide if they want to read the spoiler or not.

I feel like NYCm's guidance is reasonable for what subjects require a CW. But I agree with taaaylor that you can suggest someone adds one. If a reader makes the suggestion that you add one, then add it. It hurts no one, and might make a difference to someone's mental health.

Great points regarding the distinction between phobia and trauma - thank you! I did suggest a CW would be helpful on this particular story, and I later discovered that NYCM suggests a CW for this topic, so I don't think I was out of line.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote slinkylink Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 5 hours 58 minutes ago at 11:34am
Originally posted by Draiglas Draiglas wrote:

It's not on Submittable but when you go to the backup screen on the NYCM midnight page after submitting, 

I just submitted my short story and see that the content warning option is now on both the main page and backup page. I'm 99% sure it wasn't on the main page for 250 because I would have included it for mine. I'm glad that the CW aren't visible to the judges! That will definitely encourage me to include them next time. 

"While not mandatory, please consider adding content warnings if your story includes graphic sexual content, graphic violence, or anything else you feel would need a warning for the reader. This will not be visible to the judges. But, if any judges would like to opt-out from receiving groups containing certain material, it will help us assign them to different groups. Thank you very much!"


Edited by slinkylink - 5 hours 53 minutes ago at 11:39am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Draiglas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 5 hours 11 minutes ago at 12:21pm
Originally posted by slinkylink slinkylink wrote:

Originally posted by Draiglas Draiglas wrote:

It's not on Submittable but when you go to the backup screen on the NYCM midnight page after submitting, 

I just submitted my short story and see that the content warning option is now on both the main page and backup page. I'm 99% sure it wasn't on the main page for 250 because I would have included it for mine. I'm glad that the CW aren't visible to the judges! That will definitely encourage me to include them next time. 

"While not mandatory, please consider adding content warnings if your story includes graphic sexual content, graphic violence, or anything else you feel would need a warning for the reader. This will not be visible to the judges. But, if any judges would like to opt-out from receiving groups containing certain material, it will help us assign them to different groups. Thank you very much!"

Yeah, I saw that when I did a safety submission earlier. Maybe I was the only person who noticed the CW thing on the backup page so they just decided to make it more obvious now LOL
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