Writing BDSM
Friday, July 15th, 2011

I’m going to talk about BDSM and why *I* write it and why *I* find it appealing. This is my opinion and my process. It does not have to be yours, after all, there is no one true way. But this is my blog and so I’m going to talk about what I think. With all that out of the way –

I’m always flattered when I read a review of one of my books with BDSM elements and someone says they don’t normally read the theme but I don’t write it the “usual way” or somesuch so they dug it. And then it makes me a little sad because I think there are a lot of missed opportunities when BDSM is a theme in a romance or erotic romance.

While lots of people will tell you there’s one true way to write BDSM, this is not so. Shrug. Sexuality is like a snowflake, it’s different for each person and each couple. As Erin says in Laid Bare – there’s no “Big Book of Bondage” and each couple makes it up as they go along and does what works for them. So for instance, I never write humiliation in my BDSM books. I’m not judging anyone whose interests lie in that direction, it’s just not something I care to write about. Firstly I find it, well, humiliating and that’s not my interest. I have no interest as a writer, or as a person, in investigating a relationship where one person gets off on humiliating the other person, who also gets off on it. Or worse, we never get to see the response or interest of the person being humiliated at all so you have no idea if it does get them off. They just do it. Which leads me to the next issue.

To me, the beauty of BDSM is in the exchange of power. Why would a strong woman submit to her partner? What does it do for her? How does it make her feel and why? Because the key is that submission is GIVEN, not taken. And it’s a gift, not a right. I’m interested in a hero, a dominant man, gets off on that control, but also cherishes the woman who gives it to him. The dominant man who understands that while he’s holding the control, she’s his to admire, his to care for and cosset and that is a beautiful thing. He understands that he’s got to earn it, but once he does, it’s his to keep and nurture.

BDSM in a romance is an explosive thing. It’s powerful for any person to find someone else worthy of submission to. It’s powerful for any person to take control and use that power to bring pleasure. *THAT* is the core of why I write BDSM and that is what I find so fascinating I return to it. I want to be in her head when he’s binding her hands, or covering her eyes, I want to be in his head when he uses the flogger. There’s so much more than the physical action of hand meeting ass cheek! I’m not saying people have to do everything they write about. But honestly hold a flogger, swing it. It makes sounds. It has a certain kind of weight, the leather of it has a scent. The silk of a blindfold feels a certain way against your skin, doesn’t it? So why isn’t it part of sex scenes in so many BDSM books?

Power is three dimensional. It’s thrilling and tempting. Men who wear power are also those things (and sometimes they’re just dicks). Sex is also a sort of power, but the dynamics of it are unique. So when I write BDSM I want to explore that. I want to get under the skin, into the hearts and minds of the people doing it. And when I read flat descriptions of endless spankings or women who discover they’re submissives and jump into the 24/7 master/slave game with some guy they just met it’s more than boring to me, it’s a total missed opportunity for some major examination of the people on the page. Oh and it’s dumb. Who does that? That’s a pretty huge life change, why would she do it and why isn’t that ever explained? Or worse, some guy who is an ALL CAPS DOM! He demands she call him Master whatever five seconds after they meet. He takes no time to figure out who she is, what she may like or not like. That’s not hero material at all. It’s just thin and not very interesting.

Sex is far more than tab a slot b (or tab a tab a, slot b slot b, etc). In a book, you’re building a world, even when it’s a contemporary setting. The characters and what they do should make some sort of sense. Sex is part of that. It’s easy enough to know why a woman likes it when her clit is stimulated. But why does she like it when her partner binds her with rope or other kinds of ties? That so many writers miss that opportunity is a shame.

17 comments to “Writing BDSM”

  1. Diane Sadler
    July 15th, 2011 at 8:21 am · Link

    And you are so right!
    Have a great weekend.



  2. Mary G
    July 15th, 2011 at 8:33 am · Link

    Well said! Makes a difference to add that layer. I admit to having had preconceived ideas about BDSM & was not interested. When your fave authors e.g. Beth Kery, include it in an emotional wonderful book, it changes everything.

    The biggest surprise: the sub actually holds all the power with the safe word.

    Now if it’s part of the story/relationship, it doesn’t faze me.
    You keep writing it your way & I’ll keep reading.



  3. MichelleKCanada (@AnotherLookBook)
    July 15th, 2011 at 10:53 am · Link

    And this is why I love all your books. You write exactly to my taste! Great article.



  4. Serena
    July 15th, 2011 at 12:12 pm · Link

    Well said and written. Your writing style and the dimension you add to your stories is why “Second “Chance” is one of my top 3 all time favorite books. Makes me think about exploring that part of my sexuality. Keep writing amazing books.



  5. Cassandra Carr
    July 15th, 2011 at 12:40 pm · Link

    You hit the nail on the head. So many writers miss all those action/reaction things, and they’re what makes BDSM so fascinating. My first BDSM book is coming out in December and I’ll admit I’m more nervous about what people will think of it. My Dom is one of those guys you mentioned who just “wears power”, but by no means is he an a$$hole. He cares about his submissive and is very careful to watch her reactions to anything he’s doing. That’s a Dom’s job.

    Thanks for writing this!



  6. Nina Pierce
    July 15th, 2011 at 12:52 pm · Link

    I was attracted to writing contemporary BDSM for all the reasons you mentioned. The sex involves the brain as much as the body. I’d like to get into the head of the characters when they’re playing out a scene. It gets right to the heart of who they are.



  7. Cee
    July 15th, 2011 at 12:54 pm · Link

    Well said. Appreciate the comments about the reality- even though you’re writing fiction, it’s pretty easy to figure out who has done their homework.



  8. Toni
    July 15th, 2011 at 1:57 pm · Link

    Thank you for a wonderful post. I love your writing.

    BDSM gets such a bad wrap. Though I have never had the opportunity to play in that lifestyle, I find it fascinating, especially for all the reason you listed. There are “dicks” out there, but there are also loving relationships too.

    Kudos to you for showing the other side of BDSM.



  9. Jimena D.
    July 15th, 2011 at 2:22 pm · Link

    I really love reading BDSM novels and I agree about the humiliation aspect to BDSM, I’m not into it either. I do love the power exchange between the couples or triads. I think each BDSM novel has a different level of intensity, some are just about the sex, some are full into the lifestyle, others are just kinks…and that’s what I love, the diversity of BDSM…



  10. Tymber Dalton
    July 15th, 2011 at 4:34 pm · Link

    Amen! That’s why I get so irritated at the “won twue wayers” who claim my BDSM writing isn’t “real” because it’s not the way they do it.

    Surprise, I write my contemporary BDSM the way I either do it, have seen it done, or been told first-hand by people who have done it.

    Just like I can’t stand the old-fashioned romance bodice rippers where the woman is practically raped by the hero, but it’s okay because he marries her, everyone has their own tastes. But hearing people put down a piece of writing because it’s not the way “they” do it…that’s just closed-minded in my opinion.

    Good for you for writing what resonates for you. I’ve personally found that’s the only way to stay true to the story and the characters. :)



  11. Jen B.
    July 15th, 2011 at 7:14 pm · Link

    I do read BDSM books. Let me clarify. Books that are all about the BDSM aspects of the character’s relationships. When I read your books, I don’t think of them as BDSM per se. Your books are about the relationships and the story and you happen to have characters that enjoy aspects of the BDSM lifestyle. I recommend your books to people but I have never recommended any of the straight BDSM books to anyone.



  12. Shayla Black
    July 15th, 2011 at 7:22 pm · Link

    Brilliant, as always. You are totally correct. Every relationship is individual, and that’s especially true for BDSM. Thanks for a great post!



  13. Collette
    July 15th, 2011 at 10:29 pm · Link

    The relationship between the two people and how it moves and grows and what it looks like is why I read books. There’s a whole other level there when you add in BDSM and I think your handling of it is why I read YOUR books. I love the relationships in your books. Love them.



  14. Natasha A.
    July 17th, 2011 at 6:24 am · Link

    Fantastic!! This should be required reading! :D



  15. trish dechant
    July 17th, 2011 at 5:04 pm · Link

    Thank you so much for posting this topic. I am an aspiring writer, and have bounced around the idea of a romance story with BDSM elements–That being said, I have read a lot on this topic. Some are bad:REALLY bad– and miss the mark so completely that I end up not finishing the book. (BTW-it has NEVER happened with a Lauren Dane book, :wink: ) The last one I just finished turned my stomach-it used humiliation and wasn’t in any way something that I could finish.
    For me, BDSM isn’t about perversion, or feeding a kink. It’s one the most intimate connection that two people can have. Im not saying that the couples out there that are strictly vanilla cannot experience that. Nope.
    But there are those writers out there that can catch that emotional connection in a BDSM relationship and touch your heart as well as your..er…girly bits…
    Sex without emotion–whether kink or not, is meaningless and makes a flat story.



  16. BookAddict
    July 18th, 2011 at 11:52 am · Link

    I read BDSM books because it’s my kink. I read a wide range from slice of life to the fantasy hardcore stuff.

    In one of the groups I’m in, we try to ensure that the full spectrum is noted and categorized so that people who are interested in certain aspects of BDSM read what they like. I would agree with Jen in her comments above.

    Personally, I tend to enjoy the harder intense aspects of BDSM. I like to read the fantasy stuff that shouldn’t be applied in real life. The lighter stuff, in the group we are in, we categorize in a way so that those who like it know to go to that list of books and enjoy it. It’s also a good indicating for those who are hardcore to avoid those books because we don’t want the hardcore ones to scoff and rate the books low because it isn’t “enough” for them.

    Here is the dilemma we struggle with in our group. It’s not so much the authors who are writing the lighter side of BDSM. It’s the ones who are jumping on the “fad” and writing BDSM w/o any research then calling it BDSM. For those of us who want more than a spank or little bondage, this is an extreme let down. Then there are the ones who don’t do any research at all and write what they think is considered “extreme” BDSM. I read those and roll my eyes. I roll my eyes because it is neither extreme. It’s all subjective, isn’t it? is the comment I hear from those who defend the warning.

    I agree, it is pretty subjective. But I have to say, telling anyone into BDSM lifestyle that 10 slaps on the bare ass is extreme or that Anal sex is extreme will get on these looks. O_o

    Being tied up to a bed and forced to suck a dick as extreme will only get another look of :shock: . These are the ones where those who read a lot of BDSM feel is a let down.

    As much as people dislike labeling or being “place in a box”, these do help readers with expectations. We try to steer our group members to the kink they like, not what we say they should like. :wink:

    And now as my little fan girl squee – Ms. Dane, your books are lovely and most everyone I’ve interacted with in the groups love your books. We don’t want to distract you from your writing as we eagerly await your next books.

    Ms. Dalton – you are one we love and pimp out to all the newbies and hardcores alike. The reluctant dom and domme by default had many of us sobbing our hearts out.



  17. William
    July 24th, 2011 at 1:12 pm · Link

    Very cool blog and article!



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