Hi Indies! I’m back with part 2 of Writing BDSM/Kink. Today, I’d like go over how you can use your characters’ reactions, emotions, and thoughts to add even more realism to the fantasy and talk a little about the different dynamics/areas of Kink.
Note: Everything I share here will be generalized and ‘under normal circumstances.’ There are always exceptions to the rule, but to keep my posts as short as possible, I’m sticking to the most common dynamics, personality types, and situations we find in BDSM fiction. Also, I don’t read, write or have any experience in Femdom, so my references mainly pertain to male Dominants and female submissives.
USING TRUE TO LIFE REACTIONS, INNER-MONOLOGUE & EMOTIONS WHEN WRITING BDSM/KINK
While Kink is essentially a physical desire and practice, it’s not emotionless. When writing BDSM/Kink, it is just as vital – if not more so – to show your readers the emotional stages your characters are going through. Especially, your subs. The “Act of Submitting” is an emotional need, not just a physical one. Most natural submissives crave their submission. It’s when they feel the most whole as a person; emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually fulfilled. By no means, does that equate to a sub falling to their Dominant’s feet as the perfect example of ‘pleasing’ the world has ever seen. There are plenty of other emotions and outside factors that come into play.
Ingrained mindsets and beliefs can contribute to your characters’ internal and external struggles. As readers, we often see this displayed in the newbie or novice submissive: those heroines being introduced to BDSM for the first time. It’s quite realistic for your female lead to be defiant against submitting, or to at least to have conflict within herself both mentally and emotionally over the fact that she likes it. We’re not supposed to like it, that’s what we’re taught our whole lives.
Most real life experienced Dominants are prepared for the ‘fight’ when they’re taking on a novice sub and tend to show a bit more patience, use positive reinforcement and encouragement because they want their submissive to embrace her role completely, not have more reason to run from it. That doesn’t diminish their authority or make them any less firm with their expectations because…
About 80% of a typical BDSM dynamic is Behavior Modification.
How many books have you read where there was a contract that came with a list of rules and expectations? That is all about Behavior Modification, not about kinky pleasure. A majority of the rules and expectations are “standard,” the ones a Dominant will use for all of their submissives, no matter what. This foundation of rules enables a Dom to mold a woman into the kind of sub he desires most, one that will meet his needs and fetishes. Often, the process and challenge of ‘molding’ his sub is something that gives him great pleasure. Other rules and expectations will be added to the “standard” list, and derive from what the submissive is hoping to gain from the dynamic.
Most subs have things they don’t like about themselves and are asking the Dominant for help with changing them, because they can’t do it alone. They need someone there enforcing the change, someone they’ve agreed to obey with the consequence of discipline, should they fail. We can always disobey ourselves and get away with it, but when there’s a higher authority to answer to, we’re less likely to revert to our old, bad habits.
Using Behavior Modification practices between your hero and heroine can not only add realism to the fantasy, but provides an area for possible tension/conflict. Most of that tension and conflict would realistically stem from the internal struggle of your submissive character, because it’s uncomfortable and scary as hell to change, even when we know it’s for the better. Subs are going to lash out in their behavior because they are fighting against themselves just as much as being ‘forced’ out of their comfort zone. Note: Behavior Modification doesn’t require an actual contract or list of rules. A lot of dynamics are established with ‘verbal’ rules and expectations, rather than a printed copy.
What about heroines who aren’t new to the Lifestyle? How can we show the same kind of inner struggle or emotional upheavals with an experienced sub, as we do with a novice? The most obvious way is the most realistic: No two dynamics are the same. Your heroine might have years of experience in the Lifestyle, but she’s never been in a dynamic with your hero before. His fetishes, expectations, and reactions are going to differ from those she’s previously known. Those can cause her a little or a lot of struggle, depending on how you want your story to play out. Maybe your hero provides a secret fetish she’s always been ashamed of having, and being given the freedom to explore it puts her through an emotional roller-coaster as she learns to embrace/accept it and release all of the negative connotations she’s always associated with it.
For example: In my Avarice Trilogy, my heroine is an experienced submissive, but her most shameful desire is to be rendered completely helpless by a Dominant. To have no say, no choice, no control over any aspect of her life. Naturally, when she comes up against the hero and that’s exactly the kind of dynamic he’s proposing, she’s ready to run the other way. She goes through the emotional and mental wringer–even after she’s already submitted–every time he does or says something that reinforces this ‘shameful’ desire of hers. Because she’s a modern-day, independent woman and society says that what she wants, what she craves above all other things, is degrading and wrong.
None of her past experience in the Lifestyle could prepare her for a Dom willing to go to such an extreme version of domination and stay there. Yet, in no way did my heroine stop being a strong, modern-day woman by submitting to this type of dynamic. Although, she willingly gave up most of her independence because what she ended up inside of was a TPE dynamic (see below). Most of my submissive heroines retain a good portion of their independence and always their inner-strength.
How can my submissive character be naturally submissive and naturally independent/strong at the same time? Simple: Submission takes a butt-ton of courage. To allow yourself to be vulnerable, exposed, uncomfortably honest, and put all of your trust into another person that they won’t permanently damage you emotionally, mentally or physically, is one of the bravest things a human being can do. That goes for male and female subs. In the Alternative Lifestyle, submission is regarded as a Gift that’s given to a Dominant. Many believe that it’s really the sub who holds all of the power, because they are consenting and giving a Dominant permission to act out their desires on them. I think it’s more equal than that, simply because submissives equally desire being Dominated, so it’s a mutual exchange: need for need. No matter how you choose to view it, in no way does your character need to come across as timid, weak or easy to push around just to be considered submissive. And honestly, if your Dominant is coming across as someone who would push around, bully or walk all over their sub, they are not Dominant…they’re just an abusive asshole labeling themselves as such. There’s a huge difference between being Dominant and being Domineering.
Another positive result of submission is that it can heighten your heroine’s sensuality and boost her confidence/self-esteem. Submissives are highly aroused by being dominated in every possible way. They are turned on when their Dom flexes his authority muscles both verbally and physically, in and out scening. Praise coupled with the knowledge that they are bringing pleasure and/or pleasing their Dom can positively influence your heroine’s confidence, her body image/self-esteem and allow her to become more adventurous with her own sexuality. This is a good area of ‘personal growth’ to show to your readers, if one of your heroine’s flaws is a low self-esteem, lack of confidence or bad body-image. Since heroines with these flaws are the most relatable in romance fiction, I wouldn’t skip out on letting readers see her overcoming them and learning to love herself more as she becomes more comfortable with her own sensuality and body.
COMMON TYPES OF DYNAMICS IN BDSM FICTION VS REAL LIFE DYNAMICS & WHAT THEY ALL MEAN
D/s: This simply means Dominant/submissive. It’s the umbrella term for any dynamic in the Lifestyle that involves a Dominant and a submissive, regardless of how they identify otherwise.
The most common D/s dynamic used in BDSM fiction is Mono (meaning monogamous) – while in real life this is extremely rare. In fact, it’s safe to say that Monogamy is the #1 Fantasy element in BDSM fiction. More often than not, a real life Dominant is NOT monogamous, even if they spend more time with one submissive over others. This includes situations where they are legally married to their main submissive, as well. Most areas of kink follow the “open relationship” view, although submissives and slaves in committed dynamics are at the mercy of their Doms/Masters, unless otherwise agreed upon between both parties.
Tops & bottoms: This can be interchangeable with Dominants and submissives, but not always in the same regard. A Top is a person who is providing stimulation to a bottom, i.e. whipping, flogging, edging, etc. The bottom is the person receiving the stimulation. But, in D/s situations, Dominants do not become ‘bottoms’ just because they receive stimulation by ordering their submissive to pleasure them in some way. A Servicing Top is at the service of the bottom, therefore they’re not providing stimulation of their own choosing, but that which the bottom has requested.
In most BDSM fiction novels, the terms Tops and bottoms are used primarily for Kinksters who are not in a D/s dynamic with each other, they are only scening together, usually at a community or public venue like a kink club or Dungeon Party.
Switch: A Switch is a Kinkster who enjoys being both a Top/Dominant and a bottom/submissive, depending on how the mood strikes them.
M/s: This means Master/slave, and is a TPE (Total Power Exchange) dynamic (often referred to as TTWD This Thing We Do in cases of Domestic Discipline.)
Unlike subs who still retain a certain amount of freedom, choice, and independence, a slave has given all control and power over her existence to her Master. He will tell her if she can or cannot work, what to wear, how to eat and take care of her body, what household chores/routines she will be expected to do on a daily basis, etc. The list, of course, depends on the individuals. A slave has no say over what her Master does or doesn’t do, either, like take on multiple other submissives or turn their house into a Poly Household (Polygamy/Polyamorous). Slaves are “consensual” and willingly place themselves in their dynamics just like every other submissive, but they’ll still have moments of defiance and disobedience. They tend to be more wary of consequences than the average sub, though.
Note: While most Master/slave dynamics are Total Power Exchanges, not all TPE dynamics are M/s. How a Dom and sub identify individually or as a couple, doesn’t always determine what kind of dynamic they’re going to end up in.
DD/s, DD/lg, DD/bg: In these instances, DD means Daddy Dom and is the second most popular type of Dom in BDSM fiction. Daddy Doms usually have more patience, less sadism, and gain pleasure through being the Protector, Provider, Teacher and Nurturer to their submissives. Daddy Doms take on a large variety of submissives from little girls, baby girls, brats, princesses and even subs who don’t identify as anything in particular. While most Doms who partake in Age Play are Daddy Doms, not all dominants who identify as Daddy Doms partake in Age Play dynamics. Note: When seen on its own, DD usually refers to Domestic Discipline, which is one of many sub-cultures in the Lifestyle.
Pets/Pet Play: Pets are popular in BDSM romance, and can range from exploratory to fully-realized. Exploratory pet play is when the Dom calls his sub by a pet name like “kitten” and maybe has her wear ears and a tail, sometimes makes her eat and drink from pet dishes on the floor and might even go as far as having her sleep on a “pet bed.” Fully-realized pet play is when the Dom treats his sub like a pet all of the time, including feeding, grooming, bathing and housing their submissive exactly like the animal they’re portraying. Fully-realized pet play dynamics may also include Humiliation and Degradation fetishes. The most popular pet types are kittens, puppies, horses/ponies, and pigs.
SM: Sado-Masochism is one of the more common types of dynamic situations in BDSM fiction. Rarely does a BDSM/Kink book not include some form of SM, even if it’s just spanking. SM can range from the standard SSC (Safe, Sane & Consensual) to R.A.C.K. (Risk-Aware Consensual Kink).
Just to be clear: Safe, Sane & Consensual covers ALL areas of the Alternative Lifestyle, regardless if there’s any SM involved or not. I’m simply using it here to clarify the difference between mild and extreme Sado-Masochism. The most common acts of SM, like spanking, flogging, caning, whipping, edging, wax play, sensory deprivation, etc. which don’t result in extreme pain or wounds that have the potential of scarring would be considered the ‘norm’ that falls under SSC. Though some bleeding can occur with whipping no matter how mild.
R.A.C.K. covers the areas of extreme SM that explores dangerous or risky fetishes such as Erotica Asphyxiation (Breath Play), Blood Play, Piercing/Sewing, Machines, Body/Limb Stretching, Nipple Torture, Breast or Genital Mutilation, or any other fetish that could result in permanent bodily damage, scarring, and even death. As I’m sure you’re already aware, R.A.C.K. is the least common type of kink explored in most BDSM fiction, especially under the Romance genre.
Cuckolding: Cuckolding is becoming more and more popular in BDSM fiction every day, though isn’t necessarily experienced between individuals who identify as Dominant or submissive or even belonging to the “Alternative Lifestyle” at all. The fetish of cuckolding is when a man becomes sexually aroused by watching his wife have sex with other men. Sometimes in fiction, this will also include Humiliation and Degradation fetishes, portraying that the husband is further sexually aroused by being made to feel inferior or inadequate compared to his wife’s lovers. In some scenarios the wife is the Dominant force, in others it’s her lover who is dominant over both her and her husband – or it can be a team effort by both the wife and her lover.
Bondage: Bondage is usually happening in one form or another in BDSM fiction, but can be the main theme when the Dominant identifies as a Rope/Shibari Master. Rope Bondage is its own sub-culture in the Lifestyle, just like Leather is. It’s also common for a Rope Bondage scene NOT to result in or involve sex. Rope Bondage is commonly accompanied with photography, and those in this particular lifestyle thoroughly enjoy conducting both private and public performances to show off their craft/art. Outside of Rope/Shibari, other forms of Bondage can and will result in sex, especially with the use of a bondage table, pillory (or stocks), shackles on a bed, suspension cuffs, St. Andrews’ Cross, etc. It covers a wide range of Kink Scenes in both real life and fictional BDSM.
Discipline: This circles back around to Behavior Modification in most cases, and is seen quite frequently in BDSM fiction and real life. The use of Discipline, of course, varies depending on the Dominant and the situation. A sub can be made to stand in a corner, suffer a humiliation (as long as that’s not a trigger or hard limit for them), perform a difficult task, be denied a reward/pleasure, get spankings, floggings or whippings, etc. Some Dominants have been known to keep a tally of ‘wrongs’ and will discipline their sub for them all at once, so they can be forgiven, get a clean slate and move on. Disciplinary Acts should absolve the submissive of guilt afterward. They did wrong, they suffered the consequence, and now it’s done. Their wrong doing shouldn’t continuously be held over their heads or brought up in conversation, unless they are committing the same ‘bad behavior’ repeatedly. Natural submissives suffer in guilt, even when they consciously make the choice to disobey, the guilt over it will consume them. They will actually crave being disciplined because it’s the only way they can let go of the guilt.
One of the cruelest things a Dom can do is NOT discipline their submissive, and especially never forgive them for their bad behavior. If a submissive’s behavior is that extreme, a Dominant is more apt to ‘release’ them from the dynamic, which in itself, is the “Ultimate Punishment.”
Discipline is used to correct a bad, disrespectful, rule-breaking, or self-destructive behavior, it is NOT ever to be conducted out of ANGER. If your Dominant is whipping his submissive while he is angry, that is ABUSE. It is not–in any way shape or form–discipline! Shaming and Degrading out of anger is also ABUSE. Any act where the Dominant treats their submissive with abnormal cruelty just because they are angry is 100% abuse.
Most acts by a submissive that would result in a Disciplinary Action tend to cause their Dominant disappointment, not anger. If your Dominant gets angry, have them walk away until they’ve calmed down or issue a partial Discipline like standing in the corner, until they can calm down. In no way should you ever write a scene where your Dominant verbally or physically assaults your submissive while angry as a form of Discipline.
Another type of dynamic that I’ve seen “touched on” more often than fully-realized in BDSM romance is Primal. Primal is pretty much exactly how it sounds. It’s based on the desire to follow natural instincts and urges, rather than conventional ones, which is also why it’s a less defined or structured type of dynamic, and might be harder to pin down. Some Primals identify as wild animals such as wolves or lions, and live in Poly Households run by an Alpha or Alpha Pair with multiple betas. Other Primal scenarios include the “hunter and the prey”: a kink scene where the Primal Hunter will chase down the Primal Prey and then ‘ravage’ them with much rougher sex than normal. Some Primals simply identify as such because they prefer to live their lives as raw and unfiltered from society’s expectations as possible, and that includes the entire spectrum of emotions and behaviors, not just rough or savage.
Okay, I think that’s all for this post. I probably won’t have a Part 3, as I’ve covered more than I anticipated with just the 2. But, let me know if I missed one of your favorite types of dynamics or if there’s a related topic you’d like to see a post about. Also if you have any questions or feedback, those are always welcome! 😀
❤ Happy Saturday!