This month’s Spanking Roundtable Discussion is hosted by Cara Bristol, who was inspired by a comment by Natasha Knight, who said when she’d first begun writing spanking stories, they were erotic rather than disciplinary. Cara posed the following intriguing question to this month’s Roundtable:
How have your spanking stories evolved since you began writing?
This month’s Spanking Roundtable Discussion is hosted by Cara Bristol, who was inspired by a comment by Natasha Knight, who said she’d when she first began writing spanking stories, they were erotic rather than disciplinary.
How have your spanking stories evolved since you began writing?
1. Do you do anything differently now than when you first began writing?
The short answer to this is that I do everything differently from what I used to do as a novice.
Before, I would simply start writing and wait for the story to tell ME what I was actually writing about — 100% “pantsing”. Now, before writing, I’ll start with a very bare bones set of facts. I sketch out a one line summary of the plot, figure out who the hero and heroine are (at least their names, for God’s sake!!), and some semblance of the central conflict. That’s it.
Once I have those things, I throw them all together and just start writing. I guess you could call this quasi-pantsing. Or something.
2. Have you crossed any lines you thought you wouldn’t cross?
This is a great question. I’ve crossed a few that I didn’t realize were lines with me. The number one line is consent. I’ve found that dubious consent and non-consent can sometimes make for a much more gripping (and erotic) story, even though I must admit I’m still not completely comfortable writing it. Anyone who’s read my blog knows how important I regard the issue of consent — but any reader of my blog will also see that in fiction, I think virtually anything goes.
If the story is better/hotter/more realistic with dub con or non con, then that’s how the story needs to be told. Even if it might make me uncomfortable on occasion, I will now go where the story takes me, rather than arbitrarily self-censor. Sometimes writing needs to make us feel uncomfortable.
3. Have spankings become harsher or softer?
I think in my case the answer is yes and no. My fantasy (and soon sci-fi, and paranormal) stories are definitely on the harsher end of the spanking spectrum. I think this is appropriate for the settings (and something I just think is hot), so this hasn’t — and won’t — change in my writing.
In the case of stories with a contemporary setting though, I’ve probably included a wider range of disciplinary styles/situations than I used to. Where I used to depict punishment almost solely in the form of corporal punishment, now I will include various other methods of “punishment” as well, either as a replacement for, or a pleasant adjunct to, regular ol’ ass whoopin’.
I’m a great believer in exploring the psychology of spanking and other unequal power dynamics, and now, while I still include plenty of spanky ow ow times, I also have liberal doses of humiliation, forced exhibitionism, objectification, and generally getting into the minds of both those poor, martyr subs and their tortured Doms.
Readers who’ve read a few of my books have remarked that my Doms are often “harsh” or “strict”, with punishments that match those descriptors. I won’t argue with that, because that’s what I like to read (and write). But now, rather than being softer or harsher, the spankings in my work are more a function of a wider variety, and often ones that incorporate the all-important psychological side of the equation.
4. Have you expanded your repertoire of punishments?
This sort of dovetails with question #3, but I’ll address it more specifically here. I’ve definitely expanded my definition of punishments. The only common thread in my work is that they are inherently sexual — you won’t find page after page of sexless punishment for punishment’s sake in my work! It’s just hotter that way, dammit!
As an author who is perceived as more of a “BDSM” writer than a purely “spanking” writer, I already include some activities or punishments that aren’t typically seen in spanking fiction (e.g. caging, confinement/bondage, sensory play, needleplay/piercing, tattooing, etc). The biggest expansion in my work has been an increased reliance on psychological techniques such as “shame”, embarrassment, humiliation, and forced exhibitionism. While even the most basic spanking of course, by its very nature, includes elements of all of the above, I’ve made these elements more explicit than I used to, and I think they not only serve to increase the “potency” of any punishment, but they also help enhance characterization — for both punished and punisher:).
5. How have your attitudes toward spanking changed?
I think my attitude has changed dramatically in that I’m much, much more open about what I like than I ever used to be. I blog from time to time about how much I LOVE to see couples reconnect, and deepen their relationships, when one or both of them finally have the courage to come out and let their freak flag fly proudly. What I’ve found is that there are a LOT more kinky people out there than I’d ever have imagined.
Another subject that I’m often blathering about is inclusivity vis-a-vis spanking and other areas of kink. I’ve noticed implicit (and explicit) efforts to sort of “wall-off” or segregate spanking from other kinky activities. This despite the fact that spanking is most definitely kink. I regard the effort to somehow divorce spanking from the larger “BDSM” subculture as not only mystifying, but ultimately, counterproductive.
We’re already a distinct minority, people! Why the need to further ghettoize your fellow pervs? :::soapbox put away :::
6. Where have you taken your writing since you began?
The biggest single change in my writing has been a natural migration to erotic romance from pure erotica. Where my writing used to concentrate on the act, sensation, gymnastics, etc, now I put a much heavier emphasis on relationships, on emotions, and most importantly, on love. Perhaps this is simply a function of a writer who is evolving and maturing as a person — I’m sure that’s part of it — but I also think erotic romance as a sub-genre offers so many more opportunities to explore the infinite variety, the joys and heartaches, and the truths and deceptions that make up the human condition.
Thanks again to Cara Bristol and Spanking Romance Reviews for hosting this month’s Roundtable. Please set aside some time to visit the other stops on this month’s roundtable. Some fascinating stuff being discussed!
Natasha Knight says
I liked how you began with ‘the short answer is…’ That was very Trent!
I’ve only read yours and Casey’s so far (and of course my own thoughts) but I think there’s a common thread with self censoring and slowly letting go of our own self censoring habits. I know for me, those are the most exciting stories to write.
Cara Bristol says
If we were all to put our stories side-by-side and compare the early ones with the later ones we would see dramatic differences. Many writers, I think, tend to wade into kink, sticking to the shallows early on. You seem to have jumped in, but then swam to deeper waters still.
Thanks for joining this month’s discussion.
Casey McKay says
I love this: Sometimes writing needs to make us feel uncomfortable.
And I feel like I have also gotten to this point. I was always self censoring, I didn’t want to make people uncomfortable. I didn’t want to feel uncomfortable while I was writing it. But I was thinking it all the same, so hey, why not share?
Good post, I love hearing other authors thoughts!
Jaye Peaches says
I’ve self-censored a substantial amount out of my self-published books and still wonder if I took too much out, then some days, left too much in!
I’ve always treated spanking as part of BDSM, under the umbrella of impact play, so I mix it with floggings, etc. Only in my spanking romance stories is it disciplinary in origin.
Thanks for sharing your answers.
Renee Rose says
Interesting point about the segregation of spankos. I think that might be why I’m trying to climb out of that box. But I do believe it might go both ways. There are a lot of spankos who like to pretend it’s not kinky, it’s just discipline… (this might be a whole separate spanking discussion topic)
I also agree 100% with dub-con and non-con making for a better story….
Rollin Hand says
Yea, another guy in the mix. We’re hopelessly outnumbered you know. The gals own this genre but I think we can provide some value added stuff. Like you, I’ve evolved from writing straight spanking erotica to more fully realized fiction. It’s what I intended to do all along because I always thought spanking fiction was stuck in the fantasy scene description mode devoid of plot or characterization. Your point about spanking being kink is straight on. It is definitely kink AND it is arguably less tolerated by the mainstream than BDSM. Why is this? People are more reticent to admit being into spanking per se than liking BDSM. What is the taboo that still attaches to spanking?
Celeste Jones says
Thanks for sharing, Trent. Interesting that you’ve gone from writing erotica to now more romantic erotica. I think that’s probably a natural progression and as we go along we’re more interested in the characters and their story than just the spankings.