While scrolling through my Twitter feed, I saw a fellow author pose a question on whether or not books should come with a warning (e.g. this books includes elements of rape, violence against woman, child abuse, etc.).
As someone who got her start writing fanfiction, I don’t see why books don’t come with warning label. That is to say, I’m not against having books with violent content, hell, I encourage it. Writing is one of the safest ways to explore the taboo, the unknown, and everything else that scares us. In the world of fanfiction, each author is encouraged to engage in proper tagging. You’ll put down exactly what goes on in your story. Character Death, Violence, Rape, Child Abuse, Torture, everything gets put in. That way the reader has a clear idea of what exactly they’re getting into and whether or not it’s something that they want to read. In books, there’s no such thing unless you’ve got a blog handy that tells you what happens.
But in literary world, there’s no such thing. It’s every reader for himself. In the Twitter replies, there was discord. Some writers agreed, others hated the thought of putting tags on their books. The opinions held by the opposition were that tagging one’s book would essentially ruin it. Everyone would know what would happen and then what would be the point of reading the book?
I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at that reply. There are fanfics out there with everything on display. Every single bit of character death, anguish, and pain along with romance, magic, and love is there for every potential reader to see and it doesn’t stop them from reading it.
Tagging your fic or book doesn’t prevent it from being good, it’s poor writing that prevents it from being good.