Seperis (seperis) wrote,

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genre and warnings in professional literature

So this just occurred to me--and this is not to reopen the warning debates--but something I realized posting comments in a friend's DW today about warnings and genre.

Warning: Could potentially be triggering, as while it's a theoretical discussion of professional fiction and warnings, comments do mention specific instances, novels, and authors with triggering content.

Right, so we say the jacket summary will tell you sometimes, and recs, on if something is going to trigger you--examples rape, pedophilia, incest, eating disorders, self-harm, et al. I've never entirely been sure of that because a.) I rarely read reviews and b.) dust jackets/summaries are just as misleading in professional fic as fanfic.

I was trying to think of the times profic surprised me with something really unpleasant in the family of potential triggers (other people's common triggers) and it was maybe a handful of times at most, and it's not like I don't also read blind either, where to challenge myself I'll buy books in genre sight unseen and read them. (Don't ask. It's like paying to be stupid, to be honest.) Thing is--and please correct me if I'm wrong--ballpark, what are the chances of hitting a sci-fi fic that involves a character with an eating disorder?

Again, I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but I'm going to tentatively state there's not a lot of books about space ships that also linger on the character's eating disorder and treatment, for example. In general, sci fi, for example, doesn't have a huge market share with rape, outside of the John Norman school of what the fuck, in which wtf, that's not even sci-fi; fantasy is more likely to have it, almost guaranteed if a major female protagonist is involved, either Far in the Past or mostly off-screen. In fact, outside a few exceptions, when reading in any genre (non contemporary literature, non issue literature, non YA issue literature), it's not going to show up as more than a Far in the Past or Well Off-Screen.

If you're a regular reader of romance, and I am, I can spot whether the story will be seduction or rape by publisher and summary, even if it never mentions rape (which you know, it won't). Mysteries, same deal. In general--again with some exceptoins--genre telegraphs concept.

Fanfic for the most part has no concept of genre whatsoever; I'm wondering now if that's a reason it's more complicated in fandom. More or less, if you're used to genre giving you some kind of warning by being genre, then fandom's mix and match would confuse the issue. It occurs to me that very few professional works try to handle a serious trigger issue and do anything else in a story; that seems to be the story's center. Which--am I missing something?

I wish I could survey for this. Hmm. Feel free to correct me; my experience in reading is definitely not everyone's.

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Tags: crosspost, meta: fandom
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