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Rules The NEW Writers' Workshop Ratings Guide!

Sep 10, 2019
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This is the place for you to find out how to put ratings on your story! All threads posted in the Workshop need to have a tag — EVERYONE, TEEN, or MATURE. A bit has changed since our last revision of the rules, so please take a look if you can!
Please note that new rules will not affect fics written before this thread's publishing date.

This guide is formatted in a way that's a bit different from the old one, but once you get the hang of it, we'd like to think it's a bit easier to use! Essentially, to figure out where your fic fits in terms of ratings, look through each section — if your fic doesn't contain any elements listed in the Mature list, for example, go down and look in the Teen section to see if it has any warnable elements or themes listed there. If there are, you've found your rating! If not, then it's probably okay for an Everyone rating. If you're unsure, please feel free to ask us!

Please note that even if your fic is Everyone-rated, it still needs content warnings! (even if that's just a 'content warnings: none'.)


A story should be rated Mature if it depicts one or more of these things in a recurring and/or intense manner. Generally speaking, Mature-rated stories are relatively analogous to an upper PG-13 / R rating, though there's always room for ambiguity. In short, please rate your story Mature if it contains any of these elements:

✧Strong Suggestive Themes - including implicit mentions of sexual behavior, innuendo, or nudity. As our global forum rules disallow any NSFW imagery here, no explicit depictions are allowed.

✧Strong Violence - including explicit or frequent mentions or depictions of blood, injury, torture, violent death, etc. Essentially, any violent content like you'd see in a R-rated movie would merit a Mature tag for violence.
✦Explicit depictions of suicide as well as self-harm need to be warned for specifically, and always merit a Mature rating.​

✧Abuse - explicit depictions of physical or psychological abuse are allowed. Explicit depictions of sexual abuse are not, though you may have implicit mentions of it as a theme.

✧Substance Usage - explicit or frequent depictions of consumption of alcohol, drugs, or smoking, as well as explicit depictions of substance abuse or addiction are allowed in a Mature-rated story.


A story should be rated Teen if it depicts one or more of these things in a manner that is important to the story, but not as intensely detailed as what a Mature story would have. Think of a story in the Teen tag to be somewhere within the PG-13 range. Please rate your story if it contains any of these elements:

✧Moderate Suggestive Themes - implicit, more brief mentions of sexual behavior or innuendo. Nondescript, implied nudity for suggestive purposes would be Teen-rated. Frequent crude sexual jokes would likely fall under this rating, as would some depictions of romantic encounters (things more in the vein of romantic kissing rather than just handholding, etc).

✧Moderate Violence - implicit or infrequent depictions of blood, injury, or death. Warning for death specifically is required. Anything like what you'd see in a PG-13 movie would merit this rating.

✧Strong Language - Explicit usage of profanity. Usage of any kind of slur (even if 'reclaimed') is disallowed, but profanity is allowed to be used as little or as often as you'd like.

✧Mental Illness - frequent depictions or mentions of mental illness are allowed in a Teen-rated story. Anything that glorifies mental illness is not allowed.
✦Self-harm and suicidal ideation are not necessarily indicative of or caused by mental illness, but any implicit mentions of them need to be specifically warned for, and merit a Teen rating.​

✧Substance Usage - explicit or frequent depictions of consumption of alcohol, drugs, or smoking. Implicit depictions of substance abuse or addiction are allowed.


A story should be rated Everyone if it depicts one or more of these subjects in an infrequent or minor way, or even if it doesn't depict these subjects at all. Think of an Everyone-rated story as ranging from a G to PG rated movie. As such, these are our upper limits for an Everyone-rated story:

✧Mild Suggestive Themes - Implicit moments of sexual innuendo. Many romance-oriented shipfics will likely fall somewhere between Everyone and Teen, but anything at a PG-13 level does not fit for an Everyone tag.

✧Mild Violence - Cartoonish or fantasy violence is permissible in any amount. Blood, in minor cases, is allowed, but gore as well as realistic violence is not.

✧Mild Mature Themes - things like infrequent depictions of alcohol or smoking, brief mild language, or brief mentions of mental illness would fall under this guideline. Non-suggestive, implicit nudity is fine for an Everyone-rated fic. Death is fine to mention if not violent, but warning for it is required in any case.

Content Warnings Guide

It is required for all fics to have content warnings at the start of their thread. If there are no content warnings to include, please add something like 'content warnings: none'. Content warnings need to be detailed — if whatever you are warning about is something you feel may upset others, or if it otherwise could spoil your chapter, feel free to use a clearly marked spoiler tag.

Chapter-by-chapter warnings are required if any given chapter contains material that should be warned for and is not present in the original post.

It is encouraged to warn for anything possibly triggering or objectionable not explicitly stated or mentioned in this guide, as you see fit. If you'd like to, you can specify what kind of feedback you'd like to recieve (for example, if you'd like to get constructive criticism), but it is not required at all.


Rated Mature for: mentions of eating disorders and self-harm, drug abuse, strong suggestive themes, and general depictions of mental illness.

“Are you sure you don’t mind that I never take off my clothes when we have sex?”

Wallace looked up at Lucy when he asked that question. He was sitting on the edge of her bed, and she was standing in front of him. She was dressed in black lingerie, while he was dressed in a long sleeved shirt and long sleeved pants. The dorm room was dark, but Wallace still felt… insecure, almost guilty.

He felt guilty that he couldn’t hold down his sinful urges, guilty that he had given into sex before marriage, guilty that he had given into sex with a man, guilty that he had several romantic and sexual partners. He had to keep his sins a secret. He had to keep his facade perfect.

Lucy smiled and strutted over to the bed. “Why would I care? Besides”—she slid a finger down the buttons of his shirt—“you look sexy in those clothes of yours. Do you take them off for Steven or Winona?”

Wallace's heart started racing even more, partially from lust and partially from anxiety.

“No.” Not even Steven and Winona—who were more than friends with benefits, unlike Lucy—were allowed to see Wallace’s body. He hated his body. Hated it. And what would Lucy or Steven or Winona say if they saw his body? What would they say about his body if he took off the makeup and clothes that hid his imperfections?

“Are you anorexic?” No, Wallace would respond, because he hated how thin he was, and he didn’t want to keep losing weight. Paradoxically, he didn’t want to gain weight either.

"All right then, are you bulimic?" Also a no; Wallace didn't binge before purging, unless eating even just a bit over his strict limits counted as binging, and even then he sometimes purged other times, like when he got stressed before Contests, or when he was having an emotional low, or when he was on the brink of a panic attack, or when he needed to tire himself out because his emotional high was too high for him to sleep.

"Do you have an eating disorder?" If he didn't have anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, and if he didn't want to get thinner, he couldn't possibly have an eating disorder.

“Where did those bruises come from?” He hated those bruises too. They sometimes came from him accidentally falling, or intentionally slapping himself, or intentionally slamming his textbook on his arms just below the point of potentially breaking them.

“You look high.” He wasn’t high, Wallace would insist, just a little tired. Sure, he had tried marijuana and LSD, but that was for art, not for the high. Sure, he occasionally drank a little too much, but only on bad days. Sure, he took sedatives and stimulants, but only to regulate his emotions. He wasn’t high. He wasn’t an addict. He could stop if and when he wanted to—or as long as his emotions weren’t smothering him in exhausting sadness or distracting euphoria.

“Is everything okay?” Yes. Everything was okay. He didn’t have a problem. He didn’t have any problems. He couldn’t have any problems. He was Gym Leader Wallace. Guardian Wallace. Sootopolis Perfect Boy Wallace. He couldn’t let something as small as college or stress taint his perfect image. He was tired, though, and he did sometimes have to call in sick from school or work at the Gym because of a hangover or bad trip, and he could barely focus in class anymore, and he was losing more battles than usual, and he was a failure failure failure.

Rated Teen for: suggestive humor and non-graphic nudity played off for laughs.


The first thing Brendan noticed upon entering Steven's office was a big calendar hanging on the wall.

It was a very normal wall calendar, except that the majority of calendars Brendan had ever seen had a Pokémon or a landscape photo on them. Not a photo of a lady with no clothes.

Like, no clothes at all.

And she was squatting. Oh no...

Luckily, a big crystal, an amethyst or something, in front of her was obscuring everything he, as a twelve year old, was definitely not supposed to see.

But still... Wasn't she a bit too close to that stone...?

Steven noticed what the boy was staring at and swiftly proceeded to explain: "Ehm... It's... It's... That's... an artistic photograph."

Even though hesitation and embarrassment were apparent in the champion's voice, Brendan believed him.

But May didn't; "An artistic photograph. Of course, you pervert."

Rated Everyone, but there are mentions of mental illness and loss present in this excerpt:

Astraea smiled, albeit a little worriedly, and patted her daughter on her head affectionately, so as to not wake her up. Lisia didn't seem... horribly depressed, thank god. It hurt to see her not shining as brightly as normal, but Astraea was ready to do as much as she could to help.

'She's been working hard for the longest time...' Astraea murmured.

'I'm sure that Wallace will have some good advice for her. You remember the same thing happening to him, back when he was active as an idol.'

That was exactly why Astraea was as worried as she was.


When Wallace was 19, something similar had happened. And things got bad. Kazuki didn't know the extent of how bad it got, but Astraea could never forget—Wallace was lucky to even be alive.

It pained her deeply to bear that burden—it was an incredibly, incredibly scary time for her and Wallace both. Of course, Astraea made sure that Lisia knew as little as possible, and Kazuki was busy with the management side of Wallace's career, so only a select few people truly knew the details of what had happened.

Maybe it was luck, maybe it was fate, but somehow, Wallace got better. And with that, he set off on a new career path entirely—competitive battling

There was a lot that Wallace wanted to ask, anyways.
And even more that he wanted to say, too.

But it was hard. Thinking about when this exact sort of thing happened to him, seven years ago... what did he need? What gave him solace in his darkest moments?

Time was a big factor in their recovery process. The old adage about it healing all wounds turned out to be true, at least in his case.
Aside from that... what did Astraea do for them? She certainly listened to them vent an inordinate amount of times. And she tried to offer advice, within reason, anyways—knowing that someone was on their side, even though they had felt burned by others—that was priceless.
'You were a bit smaller then, so I guess you wouldn't remember too much, especially because Astraea didn't want to worry you, but...'

'Basically... Mikuri got really sick, and they returned home from idol work, just like Lucia did today.'

'Mikuri was sick?'

Wallace tapped their chin, trying to figure out how to explain it as best as possible. 'Well... it was probably the same kind of 'sick' that's happening to Lucia-chan right now. Astraea-nee, may the kami bless her, was there for me back then.'

'Oh... I didn't remember that at all...' Lisia was more than a little shocked—how could she not know about something as important as this?

'She saved my life, Lucia-chan. I'm all better now, obviously, but... if it weren't for her, I wouldn't be here.'

‘I… I never knew that things were that bad, that you almost… you almost…’ Lisia was at a loss for words.

It took her more than a few seconds to collect herself.

‘That's really scary to think about... Mikuri-chan, zenzen nakushitakunaiyo.'

'And I don't want to lose you, too. And, well... if I'm being honest, I am worried about that.'

Lisia's eyes started to water a little, as did Wallace’s.


‘Really worried…’

Silence once more.

'Hey... I'll be fine, okay? It'll be okay...'

'I said that to Astraea, too, before...' Wallace mumbled.

Wallace's thoughts started to spiral. What if he couldn't protect Lucia? What if... that happened? He would never forgive himself if... if he were to lose her.

'Hey.' Lisia said forcefully. She could see Wallace’s expression turning darker and darker.

'I have you and kaachan and Eunsong here for me. Mikuri doesn't need to go this alone, because... well, I'm not alone either.'

'So really, I'll be daijoubu. It'll be okay... I just need some time away so I'm not stressed, I think...'

'Shimpai shinaidene.'

Don't worry.

Using what we have laid out in our Ratings Guide as a model will hopefully help you out! But although this isn't a conclusive list at all, it's something that'll hopefully get you thinking about what to warn for in a more in-depth way, basically.

Focusing on sexual content, strong language, mature themes (such as mental illness or abuse), substance usage, and violence should mostly have you covered! But putting in content warnings for other things when neccesary is great, too. There may be some things out of the scope of this guide that you could deem necessary to warn for, and we absolutely welcome that — safe is better than sorry. If there's anything that you think would spoil your chapter or story that should still be warned for, you're free to put it in inline spoilers like this!

Things like minor death, or illness, or animal / Pokémon cruelty may not be tropes that jump out at you to warn for, as they're not specifically covered in our Ratings Guide, but as you never know what any given reader may want to know about your story before reading, going over your story once more to make sure the average reader is prepared would be great. Think of it as helping build up our community! o77

We won't provide a list of what we think should be warned for aside from our Ratings Guide above, but there are plenty of resources online to help you out if you're unsure — you're also more than welcome to ask our staff team here!

Other Info

Please take care to depict anything above in a good-faith, sensitive manner — we do not stand for writing used to offend or mock others in any form or manner.

There's room for nuance in some cases — if your Teen-rated work is multi-chapter, for instance, and two chapters out of ten have Mature-level violence, it's fine to leave it at Teen as long as you warn for the Mature content as usual. If 1/3 or more of your chapters feature content higher than your original rating, please change your tag accordingly. You can do this as much as you'd like.

Need help?

If you're unsure about what rating your fic or chapter should receive, what to rate for, or if the content within is allowed, please feel free to contact one of our Workshop staff members, or make a thread in this subforum! Any threads made in the subforum linked right there are only visible by Workshop staff and the thread creator only, so please don't feel worried about asking! We're here to help, and we've seen a lot — nothing is 'too much' to ask about. Especially if you're worried if your fic is 'too dark' or 'too much' for the forums, please let us know!

We normally don't allow slurs or explicit mentions of sexual abuse due to their sensitive natures, but if and only if you feel as though your fic has included them in a tasteful way, you can submit it for review by our Workshop staff here. If you are also unsure about what rating or content warnings to apply to your fic or scene, especially if Mature-rated, you are also welcome to submit it for review.

Our current moderation team is: myself (@lisianthus), @Hydrogenium, @guzmania, and @LightningTopaz! If you need any extra help, please feel free to ask myself or any of us!
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