In-Story Warnings

In-Story Warnings

The Basics
There are two types of warnings I will talk about: content warnings and trigger warnings. These are often abbreviated to CW and TW respectively.

Episode’s guidelines, when adhered to, filter out most of the content we don’t want to see. However, there is some content that is appropriate and passes the guidelines, but still deserves a warning.

First, let’s get the misinformation about the word ‘trigger’ out of the way:
Trigger does not mean offended, or that something elicits negative feelings in a person.
It means that something triggers intense flashbacks, dissociation, or panic attacks, most often from past trauma.

Content warnings warn the reader about content that could be generally upsetting. Some things that need a content warning:

  • Violence
  • Death
  • Sexual activity
  • Usage of alcohol or drugs
  • Strobe lights

Trigger warnings are a type of content warning that warn the reader about content that could be upsetting for readers with anxiety disorders so they are not taken by surprise by a reminder of intense trauma. This gives the reader time to prepare themselves with their coping mechanisms for a scene that could potentially trigger an intense reaction.
Some things that need a trigger warning:

  • Any form of abuse
  • Addiction
  • Graphic violence
  • Death
  • Eating disorders or body dysmorphia
  • Any form of hate speech or hate crimes
  • Suicide or self harm
  • Sexual assault
  • Animal abuse
  • Blood
  • Abduction
  • Gun violence

How to Use Warnings
You should always place a warning directly before the scene occurs. Ideally, create a choice that will allow the readers to choose if they would like to view the scene or skip it. This allows readers who want to read the story to actually read it without having to abandon it altogether to avoid the scene. Do not place a trigger warning without a description. This is a common mistake, and a warning that just says “trigger warning” won’t help anyone as they don’t know what they need to prepare for. Here’s an example of how to correctly incorporate a warning.


   TW:  the following scene contains racist hate speech directed at a character. 
   Would you like to skip it?

"I want to skip the scene." {
goto endofscene 
} "I want to view the scene." {
goto scene

If it is a theme throughout the story, present throughout, a warning at the beginning will do:


   TW:  the following story contains racism and hate speech. Read at your own risk.

Why Warnings are Important
Content warnings are extremely important. There are many individuals throughout with anxiety disorders, myself included. Including triggering content that reminds one of past or current trauma can induce extreme stress for them, through panic attacks or dissociation, for example.

I know from personal experience that seeing triggering content is highly upsetting. Helping people like me to avoid this stress is not ‘coddling’ but being aware and accepting of those with mental health issues. Neglecting to add content warnings is dangerous to readers’ mental health and could very easily result in a panic attack.

Please be mindful of what others are going through when writing.

Feel free to ask any questions, add on, or request an edit.


I think it is great that you are attempting to educate people on trigger warnings. There is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about them that can cause a lot of harm, and I think your post has a lot of good information!

I would like to add to this if you don’t mind. (Note: from now on when I use the word “you” it is being used to address the audience and not the OP)

Trigger warnings are also for and were originally created for people with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

For those who may not be familiar with this, trigger warnings are not for people who are uncomfortable with or don’t like a topic. To clarify, the word “upsetting” as the OP uses it does not mean the topic gave you strong negative emotions or offended you. In addition to panic attacks and disassociation, people with PTSD may also experience intense flashbacks of the traumatic event, incessant memories and thoughts of the event, and other physical and mental reactions.
Trigger warnings are not meant for a person to avoid the topic entirely, as avoidance is an unhealthy form of coping. Trigger warnings give a person with PTSD or anxiety the opportunity to mentally pull up their healthy coping mechanisms so that they are not taken by surprise and “triggered” by a reminder of a traumatic event. Trigger warnings are also not a guarantee that a person with PTSD or anxiety will not be triggered by a scene. Sometimes words, colors, scents, or other obscure things can act as a trigger as well. You will not be able to completely protect every person with PTSD or anxiety from having an intense reaction to something you’ve written, but it is important to try to provide warnings for potentially traumatic scenes in your stories to minimize the harm.

It is very important that those who read this post are careful not to self-diagnose. It is also important to remember that trigger warnings are not meant to be a coping mechanism, but rather a signal for the person to know that it is time to use a coping mechanism in order to protect themselves. If you feel that you are in need of a trigger warning and have not been formally diagnosed by a professional, please try to find a way to seek professional help before diagnosing yourself with PTSD or anxiety.

Additionally, if you are merely upset, offended by, or have a negative normal emotional reaction to a topic, that is the result of good writing connecting with your human emotions. Good writing can make you cry, remind you of a sad event, put you in a bad mood, make you extremely angry, etc. These reactions are very different from what the OP and I are describing. Please refrain from saying things like you needed a trigger warning because a scene made you sad or angry. This misuse of the word trigger is what makes people not take the need for trigger warnings seriously, and it further stigmatizes those who legitimately need them.

@brinn thank you for this post! :heart:


thank you so much! I’ll add more to the original post to make it more accurate, I really appreciate this reply.


Awesome thread!

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Bump! It’s very important that this community sees this post.

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I saw your thread, when you have said about the choice, you can skip it e.g,
I have put all trigger warnings at the start of my story and made it clear to each reader what would be included.
I did also put at the start of my story after the trigger warnings if you cannot go ahead please exit my story.
I had epis ode admin go through my story 3 times to make sure I was within the guidelines they never said this was not acceptable.
Do you think this ok?
As considering my story Is for mental health awareness and setting off someone mental health is the last thing I wanna do… thank you :kissing_heart:

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that sounds great. I’m glad you put in the effort to do that!

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So I’m guessing that ok? X

Thank you for this thread. :yellow_heart:

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yeah! it looks ok.

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bump! I hope this helps authors and readers.

bumping again.

I’m writing a story about physical/sexual abuse in a relationship. Which one would be the right one to use?

A trigger warning would be fine

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Hey, I saw this thread and figured you could help me.



The MC in my story has a mother who suffers from depression. In my next chapter, I plan to have the MC talking to the therapist about the treatment options. Suicide and self harm is never talked about. The MC and the therapist only talk about how her mom needs professional help, where she’ll go to get it, and what treatment they’ll use.

Do I need to use a trigger warning or is it okay? I felt like it was but I don’t ever want to be the cause of someone else’s relived pain.

Bumping this

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Bumping once more