Triggers in Writing #TuesdayThoughts with Doris (@mamaD8)

Hello, lovely folks, Doris here. As the title says, I’m talking triggers today. Specifically those reactions readers might have when they read your story.

There is some debate in the writing industry and amongst readers about this, so firstly, let’s look at how the dictionary defines triggers.

 

ˈtrɪɡə/
noun
plural noun: triggers
  1. 1.
    a small device that releases a spring or catch and so sets off a mechanism, especially in order to fire a gun.
    “he pulled the trigger of the shotgun”
    • an event that is the cause of a particular action, process, or situation.
      “the trigger for the strike was the closure of a mine”
verb
3rd person present: triggers
  1. 1.
    cause (a device) to function.
    “burglars fled empty-handed after triggering the alarm”
    synonyms: activate, set off, set going, trip

    “burglars triggered the alarm”
    • cause (an event or situation) to happen or exist.
      “an allergy can be triggered by stress or overwork”
      synonyms: precipitate, prompt, trigger off, set off, spark (off), touch off, stimulate, provoke, stir up, fan the flames of; More
    • (of an event or situation) cause (someone) to do something.
      “the death of Helen’s father triggered her to follow a childhood dream and become a falconer”
    • (especially of something read, seen, or heard) distress (someone), typically as a result of arousing feelings or memories associated with a particular traumatic experience.
      “she started crying and told me that my news had really triggered her”

     

 

What this doesn’t explain, is the gut wrenching reaction the person who triggers will have to this. I never really understood it either, until it happened to me. I was reading a blurb, and wham…. there it was a trigger I didn’t even know I had.

Or rather I knew it made me uncomfortable, due to this particular subject being a cause of considerable upset and trauma for someone very close to me and this person still struggles with her demons every day. It was a particularly painful time for us all as a family. I’m being vague on purpose, so forgive me.

This is is not the vehicle to discuss this matter, and I guess in part that is one of the reasons why I reacted so strongly to this story.

I’d come across it previously in a dark romance I read, and I had to stop reading it. It was just too close to home for me, but, at least, it was a dark romance and in this story, it was done to the heroine, not self-inflicted. I still couldn’t read about it mind you, but that’s my own personal cross to bear if you like.

I certainly didn’t blame the author for writing it – though some warnings about it would have been appreciated – but this is where the contention comes in.

As authors, we need to be able to write the stories we see fit to write. And if you listed every possible trigger or objection someone might find in your story (which in itself is an impossibility, because human beings are so unique in their likes and dislikes) the list of warnings would be longer than the actual story.

Only half kidding.

What we authors must do, however, is think long and hard if the subject matter we’re writing about is suitable material for the category we’re writing in. In this instance, an erotic romance. Personally, and again, this is my opinion, and I am fully aware that I simply cannot be objective in my assessment here, this particular subject has no place in an Erotic romance. Now a YA one, hell yeah. I still couldn’t bring myself to read it but done sensitively and in the right framework, it could be hugely beneficial to readers.

I recently watched the Netflix series 13 Reasons why which deals with the reasons why a teenager killed herself and is based on the best-selling book of that name.

Harrowing, yet compelling watching, and it highlights an important issue. Triggers galore in there as you can imagine, and I dare say lots of people couldn’t watch/read it.

Yet it was a story so worth telling in that framework,

That blurb that triggered my very intense reaction…..

Well, I don’t know, because I certainly will not be reading it. I hope/assume the author has done her research with this sensitive issue, and I shall let the readers decide on that one.

Like I stated above I would never tell an author what they can or cannot write. And as someone pointed out to me, that blurb did a good job, in so far that it told me that there was no way on this earth that I would read that particular story.

Strong words, I know, but I still feel sick when I think about it. Which is by no means that author’s fault, but it’s something to be aware of when/if you do choose to tackle a subject which can cause strong emotions.

I had to come off FB that day, read lots of laugh out loud romances to distract me before I lost that sick feeling of dread in my stomach, the clammy hands and the rage at what I had read.

It made me understand those readers better who leave incensed reviews because they came across something they didn’t expect when reading.

Triggers, when they happen to you whilst reading are painful, real and they evoke emotions that surprise the feck out of you.

Had I written this blog post then it would have been an expletive-filled rant, which would not have been fair or constructive.

After all, that author didn’t set out to ruin my day. She just wrote the story she needed/wanted to tell and that is all any of us can do.

However, keep those potential triggers in mind when you are writing as best you can.

That’s all from me today.

Do stay naughty, folks.

Dxxx