Writing BDSM
Apr
26
2012

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.


Do you like BDSM books? Have any absolute no nos or oh yes please type storylines? The winner of today’s contest will win her choice of Laid Bare, Captivated, Wolf Unbound, Undercover, Second Chances, Believe or Sweet Charity in whatever formats they’re available in. I’ll announce the winner on April 30 on the next Winner’s Post.

86 comments to “Writing BDSM”

  1. holly markoski
    April 26th, 2012 at 3:47 pm · Link

    I love the stories. So well written, nothing in Love. & Relationships are black and white, but full of color! !!



  2. Crystal Sworden
    April 26th, 2012 at 3:49 pm · Link

    Initially when I picked up my first story that was a BDSM book I had no clue it was. Although, honestly it wouldn’t have stopped me from reading it all. I’ve always been someone who lives by the stance I’ll try anything once, and if I like it I’ll try it a whole lot more. So, I would read any type of book once. Although I found I actually enjoy a book with BDSM elements a lot more than the average erotic novel/short story or romance. The reason being is I personally believe that sex as well as relationships involve a lot of trust with the person your with. I can see that with the BDSM lifestyle there is a lot of trust involved, and it gives people who may not otherwise, the chance to let go of whatever may hold them back sexually. I’ve also found it really hot when a scene is explained thoroughly. The feel of the rope, blind fold, any toys or other items used. It gives a whole new element to the scene, and honestly it’s as if your there. Also I do find the power that each person holds over the other interesting when explained by certain writers. Not all BDSM stories written by authors are created equal. Some end up being what a lot of people may call really vanilla, and not exciting at all. I do also understand this isn’t something for everyone, but then again nothing in life ever is.



  3. Jennie Hartley
    April 26th, 2012 at 4:04 pm · Link

    I have to say I’ve read quite a few, and while there are places I don’t go, it’s all fair game. I mean, if you want to read it, read it! I have nothing against people reading any subject. Some are into true crime; not my thing, but hey go for it. If you get some education and/or entertainment/enrichment for it, I say READ. πŸ˜‰



  4. Diane
    April 26th, 2012 at 4:08 pm · Link

    I have no taboos no limits and don’t mind reading any of the; I do require a “good” story to go with it though. πŸ˜†



  5. carole
    April 26th, 2012 at 4:17 pm · Link

    I like reading BDSM and enjoy the them alot-they do need a good story to go along with it.



  6. Lin
    April 26th, 2012 at 4:17 pm · Link

    For me, the BDSM has to fit into the overall story and characters. I don’t like it when it is used to humiliate people.



  7. Erin G.
    April 26th, 2012 at 4:25 pm · Link

    My one big no-no is humiliation. I just can’t stomach it. I also appreciate when an author (in the course of a BDSM story) has the submissive use her safe word. It seems to imply a more realistic relationship where the dominant is not perfect and the submissive is not a doormat. If the characters are relatable, I’m much more likely to read another book by that author. As far as story lines I love, whatever! A well written story is a well written story…



  8. Becky jean
    April 26th, 2012 at 4:55 pm · Link

    As long as the characters are real and it works in w the story I am up for reading anything!



  9. Aurora
    April 26th, 2012 at 5:01 pm · Link

    I dont have “hard limits” when it comes to reading ( sorry I had to;) ) I enjoy reading different authors different takes on BDSM.



  10. Angie H
    April 26th, 2012 at 5:08 pm · Link

    I agree with you on several points that you talked about. I don’t like to see humiliation in a story. I also don’t like to read the stories where five minutes after they meet people end up in a scene. I like it when I get to understand what motivates people to participate in BDSM. I enjoy reading about strong women who are comfortable enough in themselves to exchange the power with another person. These are also some of the reasons why I like your books.



  11. Cindy C.
    April 26th, 2012 at 5:21 pm · Link

    I choose books for the compelling storylines or characters that interest me. If they have BDSM that makes sense as part of the story I’m fine with that. It wouldn’t be the sole reason I buy a book. Especially for BDSM books I like characters that are a bit more established in life, not college students. Maybe that’s just because I’m getting older though πŸ™‚



  12. Becky Redd
    April 26th, 2012 at 6:08 pm · Link

    For me I enjoy reading about BDSM. Anymore that is about the only type of books I read. I love the fact that there are men who can and would love,protect and cherish a woman that is strong enough to submit. As far as relationships in these types of books they are emotionally strong and that is a big turn on for anyone. πŸ™‚



  13. Aliana Pike
    April 26th, 2012 at 6:11 pm · Link

    I’m fairly new to the world of BDSM books. I was recently introduced to the idea by a friend who felt that perhaps my lack of knowledge is more of a problem than a help to me. I don’t know if I agree with her assessment or not, but I do find some of the ideas portrayed very appealing. I’ve spent my entire life taking care of others…from the time I was 3, til now (almost 26), I’ve been the perpetual mom. I don’t know where I stand on some of the things I read in these books, but there is some appeal. The idea of being taken care of…instead of only being the care taker. To be loved…cherished…desired…protected… it certainly has it’s appeal. I don’t know about the punishment aspect of things, and yet when I put down a book with BDSM in it I actually end up thinking, “Perhaps…perhaps that could be me someday…”



  14. Laurie Rex
    April 26th, 2012 at 6:26 pm · Link

    I have to say that I absolutely LOVE your Brown siblings series. I think that the relationship between the sibs is tremendous, and the interplay is awesome! I have no problem with alternative lifestyles, and with BDSM(reading it anyway)as long as it’s “done right”. For me, that means that there is total commitment and trust and love between the partners. And they are(or should be)partners. Also, I’ve read several books where the main characters are involved in three way relationships, and I have to say that Erin, Todd and Ben is simply beautiful!! Even tho I have no desire in real life to embrace that lifestyle, I can see that it’s totally right for them. Thank you for your beautiful insights into the rainbow colors of love.



  15. Erin
    April 26th, 2012 at 7:04 pm · Link

    You are the first BDSM author I ever read. I enjoy reading it for many of the reasons you list as why it appeals to you as an author. I think when it is done well, it reveals so much trust and removes barriers between the characters.



  16. bn100
    April 26th, 2012 at 7:14 pm · Link

    I don’t mind reading them. I think they’re very interesting.



  17. Jen B.
    April 26th, 2012 at 8:00 pm · Link

    I do read BDSM stories. The only no’s that I have are things like incest and violence for violence sake. There are a lot of really good BDSM writers out there.



  18. Lori
    April 26th, 2012 at 8:15 pm · Link

    I do like BDSM story lines. I loved your book “Second Chances”. I loved all three of the main characters Rori, Zane and Jude. I didn’t want to like Zane but I couldn’t help myself. I draw the line on overly ruff and violent BDSM. lorimeehan1@aol.com



  19. Marc
    April 26th, 2012 at 8:32 pm · Link

    Don’t enter me as I have all those books already but I did want to say that I think BDSM can be very beautiful when done right. I loved “Laid Bare”. I enjoy the love and protect version of BDSM, I don’t enjoy the humiliate and degrade version of BDSM I have come across.



  20. Linda B
    April 26th, 2012 at 9:31 pm · Link

    I enjoy reading just about anything. So far I haven’t found anything I would consider off limits, some questionable, but nothing too far out there for my taste. I do steer clear of the fluffy romance novels and want something a little darker. I read about 5 books a week and do have some exceptional authors I follow.



  21. JenM
    April 26th, 2012 at 10:22 pm · Link

    The first BDSM books that I read were Cherise Sinclair’s books and they were great Unfortunately, after that I tried to find some others that were as good, and got totally tuned off. I did find a few, but most were lame. It seemed like those elements were just thrown into the books just so that label could be attached. They weren’t well-thought out or integrated into the plot or characters. Because of that, I tend to stay away from books with BDSM in them, unless it’s an author I trust (such as yourself).



  22. Jet
    April 26th, 2012 at 11:18 pm · Link

    I do love a BDSM book when it is done well, I love the trust element to it. I don’t like when there is any kind of humiliation involved though, that just turns me right off a book.



  23. Linda Brashears
    April 27th, 2012 at 6:55 am · Link

    I enjoy reading a good BDSM book. But as you said in your article, I feel like someone being humilated is just wrong. I think if you enjoy humiliation that you have a very low self esteem and the person who is doing the humliation has an ego that needs to be knocked down a notch or two. Being submissive to a guy that you know really loves you and cares for you is a complete different kind of thing. It shows two strong people who can support each other in their love. And love is not being humliated.



  24. ElaineSay
    April 27th, 2012 at 6:59 am · Link

    I love BDSM books!! I just love when the women trust the man enough to give herself over to him.



  25. Amelia
    April 27th, 2012 at 10:28 am · Link

    I enjoy your books and believe that whatever works for people (or characters) is fine. They only have to make themselves and each other happy.



  26. gretchen genova
    April 27th, 2012 at 10:38 am · Link

    I really enjoy a romance with a bdsm theme, I like the dynamics between the couples. Its getting to be that I prefer them over the more vanilla ones, even in those I like a strong hero.
    And I want to thank you, your one of the first authors that I read with this element in a romance so many years ago when it was all e books. And I eagerly wait for each and every one of your books, no matter what theme. And have enjoyed them all.



  27. Alexandrea Ward
    April 27th, 2012 at 11:00 am · Link

    I love your response about BDSM. I completely understand, that’s how I feel about it too. There are way too many books, sites, etc. out there that portray the relationship as a power differential where the “submissive” person is humiliated, abused and all that when I would hope that is farther from the truth.



  28. Abbey Ann
    April 27th, 2012 at 12:29 pm · Link

    I’ve only read a few books with BDSM because I’m extremely wary when it comes to it. I don’t want to read a book where the BDSM is disturbing. That’s why before I read a book that has that in it, I research it as much as I can. If some of my friends say that the BDSM was even boderline disturbing, I won’t read it. The book also has to have a good plot. If the books more about sex than an actual story, I’ll pass it up.



  29. fedora
    April 27th, 2012 at 5:20 pm · Link

    I have read a few, and I think that I love the ones that reveal the trust and emotions of the characters involved. I think that it can be easy for some to look at it purely as a physical, sexual thing, when BDSM isn’t simply that for most. I agree that I personally do not enjoy stories where the power dynamic is such that one party is joyful at humiliating another, but I will also acknowledge that some enjoy that; just not my cuppa…



  30. Shannon R.
    April 27th, 2012 at 8:17 pm · Link

    I’ve enjoyed some BDSM and I’ve disliked others. I pretty much feel the same way as you so as long as its positive and works for the story, I’m all for it.



  31. Aurore
    April 28th, 2012 at 7:51 am · Link

    Laid Bare is the first (and only) BDSM book I’ve read so far. I really loved it. The characters have such a healthy relationship.
    I really like the way you speak about BDSM: it’s obvious you are not just using it to attract readers but you have something to say about it and about your characters.



  32. Jennifer Butler
    April 28th, 2012 at 3:59 pm · Link

    I love BDSM books, but I think they have to be done right. I like when the man is a very strong dominate character and so is the woman but finds that submitting makes it even better.
    Jennifer B.



  33. Cathy M
    April 28th, 2012 at 7:21 pm · Link

    Cherise Sinclair’s stories got me hooked on bdsm as romances, and I especially love the command and cherish storylines. Though I get the dynamics, the least favorite are the 24 hour slave scenarios.



  34. Heather
    April 29th, 2012 at 10:05 am · Link

    I love stories that explain and get inside the relationship. I love BDSM books and the authors who get it right. Story lines that always captivate me is ones involving the chase, a well written chase that is. A no no for me is the storyline where she just becomes submissive from the five seconds into meeting the guy. I mean who does that?



  35. cait045
    April 29th, 2012 at 3:55 pm · Link

    I do like them. I think reading about them has given me a more open mind about all that. Before I really didn’t know what it was all about.



  36. Spav
    April 30th, 2012 at 12:35 am · Link

    I’ve read plenty of books with BDSM, I liked some of them,others not so much. It depends on how it’s written.