Today we have Joely Sue Burkhart here to talk about her newest release from Samhain, Yours to Take. She is going to chat with us a bit about writing BDSM in today’s romance world! Welcome to The Book Pushers Joely, take it away!
Of course everyone has heard about Fifty Shades of Grey now. Everyone’s whispering and giggling about mommy porn… or so the media wants us to think.
Meanwhile some of us have been reading and writing BDSM fiction for a very long time.
As with anything, there is well- and badly-written BDSM fiction out there. Whether you enjoyed 50 Shades or couldn’t get past all the blushing, mumbling and tripping without rolling your eyes, I’m thrilled that at least people are READING. Reading any book, reading BDSM, reading what floats your boat.
But if you’re coming into the craze late — and honestly, maybe you want to capitalize on the BDSM hype while 50 Shades is hot and write some yourself — then there are some very important things you should know before you set out to write BDSM. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve probably made mistakes. I’m not living the lifestyle.
However, I’ve always been drawn to BDSM fiction and was writing it in some fashion before I even really knew what BDSM stood for in the first place. That interest has only grown the more I’ve read and researched over the years.
Here are a few buzzwords to consider as you write BDSM.
Sexy. I’d say the number one thing I keep in mind as I write a BDSM sex scene: if I don’t find what the characters are doing smoking hot, then my readers sure aren’t going to be interested, either.
Don’t write BDSM because it’s shocking or titillating. That might get you so far, but it’s really the sexy, emotional BDSM that will keep your readers coming back. It’s only going to be sexy if YOU find it sexy. If you don’t find heavy S&M hot as hell, then don’t try to write it. There are already plenty of authors who can write the heavy, edgy scenes and pull it off wonderfully. Good BDSM fiction doesn’t have to be all whips and chains and latex, you know. There’s plenty of room for “softer” BDSM. Find what makes YOU blush and sweat and squirm…and write that instead.
Limits. Think about what limits you have as a writer and explore them, just like a good BDSM scene will explore a sub’s limits.
Maybe you once swore you’d never write XYZ. (A little known secret:
I once swore my characters would never say the f word. Yeah, they’re still laughing at me.) Maybe you really don’t find toys sexy but you wonder what the appeal is. Sit down and explore that. How could you make this scene sexy and emotional even if you’re uncomfortable?
Exploring your own limits will add emotion and believability to the story, not to mention help you grow as a writer.
Fear. Remember that at the heart of every really good hero’s journey is fear. Fear that we’re unlovable, that we’ll be abandoned and alone, and that we’ll ultimately fail the journey entirely. Fear has a place even in the most carefully contracted and fully consensual scene. Don’t assume that only the submissive is going to be afraid, either. Dominants have a ton of responsibility and may very well fear hurting the sub, failing to satisfy the sub’s expectations in some way, or even going so far in the scene that the sub is emotionally damaged. Play on those fears…and your own… to write the most emotional scenes possible.
Power. It may surprise you, but BDSM isn’t really about sex.
In fact, some really powerful scenes can play out without a single sexual act. At the heart of BDSM is a power exchange. The submissive chooses to give power to the dominant. In this regard, the control rests entirely on the submissive. The power is hers/his entirely to stop the scene with the safe word. The dominant uses that gift of power to play with the sub, whether with mind games, humiliation in some way, or sometimes but not always, sex. Think about the power that your characters are exchanging. Think about how it feels not only to be powerless, but to CHOOSE to be powerless. What kind of person would you trust to take your power away? Who would you trust to tie you up where you can’t move a muscle, let alone protect yourself? How would it feel to have someone look up at you while completely helpless and know that there’s absolutely nothing they could do to stop you (short of uttering their safe word)?
Now go write that, please.
Some recommended reads, both for research and for pleasure:
SM 101: A Realistic Introduction by Jay Wiseman
Sensuous Magic: A Guide to S/M for Adventurous Couples by Patrick Califia
The Sleeping Beauty Novels: The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty / Beauty’s Release / Beauty’s Punishment by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
The Dom’s Dungeon by Cherise Sinclair
Other websites to consider:
YOURS TO TAKE, The Connaghers #3, releasing May 8th from Samhain Publishing
Joely has graciously offered one ecopy of Yours to Take to one lucky commenter. Just let us know what your favorite BDSM read is, or what interests you about the BDSM genre. Giveaway is open internationally and ends May 15th. Good Luck!