So you think you’re a dominant?

Yeah, I know, it’s a bit of a rant. Some ideas that have been around in my head for a while.

So you think you’re a dominant?

I sometimes hear a view expressed that dominants (doms, dommes) are ‘alpha’ people who have a commanding presence, dominate others by force of will, assume they will be obeyed, know what they want and are able to get it without effort.

If that description fits you, then your name is Christian Grey, you’re a multi-billionaire and will have your pick of submissives from among those queuing up for your attentions. You’ll whisk them off by helicopter to your private island with its custom-made dungeon and play with them while your minions work hard at taking over yet another world-leading company to add to your fortune. You’re also, incidentally, likely to be an unbalanced and manipulative person, driven by well-hidden insecurities. And from time to time your sexual behaviour may get you into trouble.

Most dominants aren’t like that. They aren’t the kind of people who try to dominate the world. They’re dominant in a particular relationship, and the submissive wants it that way. Of course, meeting new potential subs, they’ll see what kind of response they get from alpha behaviour. But it will be something they can turn on and off at will.

On the whole, dominants need to be keen observers of character, of body language, of the nuances of behaviour. They need to be well-adjusted people who know their own insecurities (we all have them) and are good communicators.

They need to know their responsibilities. These include keeping your sub safe, because you’re going to put them in positions where they can’t ensure their own safety. These include, potentially, playing in clubs and such where there are other people around but also private play.

They’ll be aware of the implications of what they’re doing, both in terms of any health issues of their subs (you know the stuff: diabetes, athsma, etc. – you don’t want to tie anyone up and not have any essential medication to hand) and in terms of the dangers of the play they engage in. There’s a litany of inquests where police forces (who should know better) have caused the deaths of people they’re arrested through positional asphyxiation, in other words restraining them in positions where they can’t breathe and not noticing their breathing problems. Gags are another example. With gags, often the sub drooling is considered a sexy thing: but a sub who doesn’t (or can’t) drool is typically getting saliva in their mouth that in some positions, they won’t be able to clear by swallowing. If you gag a sub, leaving them tied down and flat on their back is generally not a good plan for this reason. You need to think about what you’re doing in at least the same level of detail that, for example, you’d think about your own safety if you were a rock climber.

The same goes for other tools of domination. Do you actually know what the whip, flogger or cane you’re using feels like? Are you confident in using ropes for bondage? You really don’t want to be experimenting on your sub, only to find that the bullwhip you picked up on a whim is capable of ripping an inch or two into muscle. It’s too late then to say ‘oops’. On a side note, I once did a club demo in which I ripped through a telephone directory with a bullwhip…

Where doms and subs have a 24/7 relationship, of course, dominants have other responsibilities as well. These might include issues such as whether, how and where the sub works; what arrangements are in place for pensions, health insurance and other mundane but important matters. And while it’s all very well to have an agreement or slave contract between the two of you that the sub is under your control, that isn’t going to wash in any matters that involve officialdom.

Dominants, like everyone else, need to recognise that people change. And their desires change too. I can think of a couple that when I first met them, the man was the dom and the woman the sub. They went through an on-off relationship for a while, and when I met them again a couple of years later the man was the sub and the woman the domme. I’m not suggesting your dominant tendencies will change in time, but if they do, so be it. If your sub’s orientation changes over time, so be it. These are things to talk about and work out between you.

A myriad of more minor issues will almost certainly crop up from time to time – health problems, emotional problems, sometimes emotional triggers from the past that have some resonance in the present. Talk. Be patient. And I’m not just talking about the submissive. It’s equally possible that as a dominant you plan something that, when you take it into practice, turns out to trigger something you hadn’t anticipated in you. It could potentially be something really simple, like thinking pet play would be cool and then halfway through it, having flashbacks to being bitten by a dog when you were a child.

Being a dominant can involve a great deal of time, energy and emotion (and money, sometimes). This ranges from time spent planning play sessions and gathering the necessary materials, to time spent dealing with the emotions they can release, and in being the trustworthy, practical person at a day-to-day level that your sub needs you to be. Both in a play session and out of it, a sub needs to know you’re someone who can be trusted – and what happens in everyday life can impact on whether or not your sub sees you as trustworthy.

A good dominant doesn’t start with the assumption they know everything. They treat domination as a craft. It’s something they continue to learn through self-help, personal exploration, reflection, reading, discussion – and through their subs as much as anyone else.

And consider this parallel. Most professional comics, off-stage or off-screen, aren’t permanently, incredibly funny. Their comedy persona comes at a cost. Recognise, and make sure your sub recognises, that no one is dominant 365/24/7. You have down days. You have days when you’re exhausted and can’t be that wonderfully assured, confident, energetic and sparkling dominant. Your sub is going to have to live with that.

There’s a reason in BDSM why we talk about ‘dominants and submissives’, because each needs the other and strangely enough (because we don’t often think about it this way) submissives have their role to play in supporting dominants as well as vice versa. Communicate your own needs, including the need for downtime.

Above all, the dominant/submissive relationship in BDSM is one that involves a lot of effort and emotional work as well as anything else, and we make those efforts and put in that work, as dominants and as submissives, because it brings huge emotional rewards. It’s fun. There are many times, after a session, I’ve spend the next three days smiling about it and feeling an extraordinary closeness with my submissive. That’s why I do it, and that’s why she does it. So have fun and enjoy what you do!

Anyone want to add additional thoughts here or engage with any of these comments?

– F

BDSM Fiction and Authenticity

As you’re all aware by now, we write a lot of BDSM fiction. We’ve noticed a lot of concern about the non-consensual writing that’s around being a ‘poor representation of the BDSM world.’ (this came from an Amazon review of another author).

Fiction is fiction, and I doubt this same complaint would be levelled at a murder mystery or a sci-fi novel in which characters are treated badly and not as we would like in an ideal world. What is important, I believe, is that if a story is non-consensual, it is honestly marketed as such. The reason for this is so that newcomers to the scene, many of which learn through reading, (and that’s often fiction), can see the clear boundaries which should not be crossed in reality. After all, you wouldn’t really expect a zombie to stomp round your living room or a vampire bite you, would you?

I have no problem with writers or readers who produce or have fantasies of non-consensual play or sex. What is of more concern is passing those fantasies off as acceptable sex or BDSM practice.

We try in our stories to make these things clear. My fiction is always consensual, primarily because non-consensual is too far off my radar and I wouldn’t be able to write it convincingly as a result. Fulani stretches the boundaries a little more, but always makes this clear for the reader so they can make an informed choice.

What we are proud of is the inclusion in our fiction of safety awareness. I like to include some details of things to be aware of, such as characters having some way of communicating their hard limit if gagged. A safeword of course cannot be used when gagged, so characters are given a ball or something similar, which they can drop to alert their dom to stop the play. I feel it is important that anyone thinking of tying someone up, making them helpless and creating pain for them should be very aware of their responsibility to that person.

This has all come from personal experience. I know how it can feel when someone does something to you that you did not want to happen. I know how it feels for someone to try and push you to use your safeword, thinking this was the way to play. It is not. Safewords are intended to STOP play for whatever reason. For either the sub or the dom, a safeword is just that. A word to use to keep you safe. And that means safe physically, mentally or emotionally. It is used in extreme situations and not as a goal for the dom to reach. A responsible dom would set up a scenario in which he/she could PLAY at pushing a sub beyond their safe limits, but not as an aim in reality.

There are types of BDSM play a few people wish to indulge in that are not safe, such as choking, or breath play, which can result in death long after a session due to heart attack or stroke caused by the interruption to normal heart rhythms. There is no doubt that breathplay ranks among the more dangerous practices in BDSM, and infosar as you may find a little of it in a few of Fulani’s stories, you’ll also find commentaries in the text that make those dangers crystal clear.

So, reader beware. Ensure you realise that what you read in fiction is not always acceptable BDSM practice. Nor is it always a fair representation of the BDSM world any more than crime novels always accurately depict how detectives work.

Tips For Writing Erotica

There is a great deal of erotica out there these days, and Fifty Shades has broken down some of the mental barriers people had about reading erotica and fetish. Whether you are writing romantic , mystery, fetish or paranormal erotica, the same basic principles apply.

How many stories tread the well worn paths of hackneyed plots? You know the ones. The plumber who seduces the middle-aged housewife, the delivery guy who delivers more than a parcel, the secretary and her manager on the office desk. Boring! Sorry, but I lose interest very quickly if the plot is too obvious. So try and think outside of the box, or even throw the box away.

For example. I was working to a call for submissions on the theme of ‘Sex At Work’. So, rather than the office or the plumber, I decided my place of work would be a zoo and the characters two of the keepers. Surprised? That doesn’t sound like the setting for erotica, does it? But my story ‘Tropical Paradise’ had my couple  getting together for clandestine meetings in the steamy, romantic setting of the tropical house in the zoo after hours. Birds copulated above my couple, amongst palm like trees and gorgeous tropical flowers. It was duly accepted for the collection Xcite published, was used as the lead story and inspired the cover for their five story collection and titled Tropical Paradise. It has had great reviews.

(If you want to find alternative sources for Sex at Work and Tropical Paradise, check out the ‘Our Publications‘ page on this blog.)

So try and find your own, unique take on a theme. Readers will thank you for it.

Another common mistake writers make it to tell you what is happening. Show, don’t tell the reader. Your goal is to fuel their imaginations, especially in the field of erotica. They want to go on a journey, escape real life and do stuff in their heads they can’t do or get in reality. If you tell them what is happening, there is no room for them to imagine. For example:

‘She was very excited.’

OK, you’ve told them she’s excited. But can they feel it? How about this instead?

‘She gasped. Her heart pulsed wildly, her eyes widened and her skin tingled as she lay there.’

Are you with her now? Can you empathise with her? If you can, you’re in the story, living it with her. Which is as it should be.

OK, you have a setting that’s fresh and exciting, maybe even surprising.  You show the reader what’s going on. But who are these people inhabiting your story? They must have personality. Although you may not actually describe them in detail, you must know who they are to write their narrative successfully. Have an idea how old they are, how much experience they’ve had, where they are from and are they characters the reader can have some empathy with?

It is not enough that they have supermodel looks. By the way, most of your readers are probably not gorgeous (and know it), don’t have perfect bodies and probably are riddled with insecurities, as most of us are. When they read, they want to be in that wonderful fantasy world where everything is fantastic. They will fill in the looks of their characters to suit themselves with little encouragement. So keep descriptions of looks brief, and give a hint of personality through their narrative.

Keep the pages turning. What does that for you? Usually for me, it boils down to action and suspense. What will happen next? If the plot is hot, I will want to know, so I’ll keep reading. Also, if I don’t care about the characters, I won’t care what happens to them, and I’ll put the book down. You obviously don’t want this to happen. So give your readers characters they can identify with or love or hate. They key thing is that the reader cares about them.

Example: Amanda is thirty-four. She’s not new to sex, and she’s not new to her particular fetish. Which is being tied up, blindfolded, teased and given forced orgasms. She’s a woman with a sense of humour, a job in retail and a partner who loves to see her struggle when they play their games. He’s a sweetie. Really very gentle, but when they play he takes on a role and sounds quite menacing. But you don’t have to tell the reader all that. Let the story and their characters unfold. If you know your characters, like you know your friends, they will come to life. Having an ‘edge’ to one of your characters (like Amanda’s partner in play mode) helps to add that sense of suspense. If you’re not sure what he/she will do next you’ll have to keep reading to find out, won’t you?

Now, how did you start your story? Are there pages of preamble, long descriptions of place and time, preparation and other not-too-relevant details? Why not dive straight in, making the reader want to know more. Your character might already be tied to the bed, sweating and shaking and waiting. What for? What will happen to her? These are the page turning questions your reader will want to know the answers to. If you can grab them in that first sentence or paragraph, all you have to do then is deliver the answers in an exciting way.

Now you’ve sorted out your setting, who your characters are and what they are experiencing, you write your story. It starts in an attention grabbing way, and when you’re finished you’re pleased it’s turned out well. Next you’ll need to edit it. Is there stuff in there that is telling rather than showing? Fix it. Is there a boring paragraph or page that doesn’t add anything to the story? Does it slow the reader down or bore them? Remove it. Can you improve any of the narrative? Do it. Then put it away for a week and don’t read it.

Then comes the last stage in the process. Re-read very carefully. Check again for all the points above. If you’re happy with the content, you’ll want to check spelling. Don’t just rely on spell check. It won’t tell you if you have used the wrong spelling or word for the context. So if you meant frigid and wrote fridge, or wrote bean and meant been, it will be missed by spell check. Then check for punctuation. Are speech marks in the right place? Are commas used correctly? If you’re not good at this it’s worth drafting in someone with a good knowledge of English and a keen eye, because it will put off a lot of readers if you publish with lots of mistakes.

Remember, it’s better to hold back from submission or publication until you are sure you have the best story you can write. I hope I’ve been able to help a little in your achievement of that goal.

– Velvet Tripp

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If creative writing is your thing, there are plenty of more detailed ‘how-to’ guides around. You could look at Kurt Vonnegut’s Eight Basics of Creative Writing, or Neil Gaiman’s eight rules, or find any of dozens of other sources from around the internet. They’re general guides about writing fiction but they apply to erotica just as they do to any other fiction. Or you could take the plunge and read M Christian’s guide, How to Write and Sell Erotica.

Canes

Our friends at Freak Clubwear have just done a short instructional video on caning they’re rather pleased about.

You may remember from previous posts we lived about 100 metres from Freak Clubwear up until a few months ago, when we moved house. They’ve been selling fetish gear, clothing and toys for almost 10 years now, manufacture a lot of their own products and clothing, and can give good advice on most aspects of bdsm play.

Quick highlights:

– there are many different kinds of canes, from thin whippy ones to thick thuddy ones, made from a wide range of materials (NB ‘bamboo’ canes are usually made, actually, from rattan; bamboos, which are a different plant species, are not much liked because of the plant structure and the possibility of the bamboo snapping. Also, don’t use regular garden canes because they may have been treated with poison-based compounds or similar to prolong their life in a garden setting. If you want to cane someone, use a cane bought from a fetish supplier!).

– there are many right ways to use canes, but also some wrong ones. For example accuracy is very important because as a cane is used, the tip tends to flex back on the stroke and has extra momentum when it hits. At the point of impact it will whip back into shape and can bite into skin, causing unintended injury. (It’s not mentioned in the video, but practicing on something like a cushion is a good way to build accuracy and gauge the level of impact. For practicing impact control, try putting e.g. a banana on the cushion and hitting hard enough to mark/dent it without tearing its skin. You can probably think up many practice strategies yourself.)

– repeated softer hits can build intensity more effectively than one or two more severe strokes. After all do you really want a scene that only lasts for one or two strokes?

– watch the body language of the sub. It tells the person using the cane a lot about what the sub is experiencing.

– canes can be used in a range of sensuous ways, e.g. using the tip to stroke the sub, as well as painful ones. Anticipation and expectation are important parts of the scene.

One useful part of the video is that you not only get to hear the ‘how to’ part of using a cane, but the sub talking about how he experiences the caning.

As to growing your own canes, incidentally – as an experiment we have a ‘walking stick cabbage’ (Brassica oleracea palmifolia) growing in the garden, which used to be grown specifically because the stems could be used to make walking sticks (though the cabbage-like top is also edible). We’ll see in a few months whether the cane-like stem is suitable for drying, smoothing, varnishing and using for bdsm purposes…

Bondage and BDSM Economy Style

One of our most read posts turns out to be from early last year, about the top ten toys for bdsm play. Velvet thought she’d add to that by suggesting, in these rather austere times, some cheap options for bdsm toys.

***

It occurred to me after a visit to the Birmingham Bizarre Bazaar that playing at these games can end up being an expensive pastime. And these are not times in which to be extravagant. So I’ve spent a little time being creative. All in the name of research, of course. There is no real need to spend lots of money to have fun. Though it’s nice to have some quality leather restraints etc, it’s not necessary, and can wait until funds allow. The good news is there’s plenty to play with in (or around) your home. Here are some free toys and ideas on how to use them.

Feathers. Look around next time you’re in the garden or out for a walk. Collect a few feathers, large and small, stiff ones and fluffy ones. Once you have your sub tied up and blindfolded, she/he won’t know what you’re using on them. And of course it’s not all about pain. Much BDSM is about mind-fucks or surprises, the contrast of sensation, and pleasure as well as pain.

Use the fluffy end or soft end of a feather on the skin or tender bits. Then try using the quill end. It pricks and scratches gently. Use your imagination!

Kitchen spatula. Useful as a spanking tool. Use a nylon or wooden one, not metal, of course! Blindfold the sub so they won’t know. The handle could be dragged over the skin or used to give a sharper twang on the skin. Just remember the usual safety rules that we’ve been over before. You don’t want to break the skin accidentally. Other kitchen implements such as wooden spoons can be used in the same way.

Credit/debit card, preferably out of date! The date doesn’t matter, of course, to the skin, but after it’s been in the freezer it might not work at the ATM. You put it in the freezer because when it’s so cold and the edge is dragged over the skin it will FEEL like a knife with none of the dangers (and any water frozen onto it will melt on the skin, giving the suggestion of wetness and the mind-fuck that there’s blood). I told you mind-fuck was important! Some sources argue that the card must be current and that the quality of the experience is directly related to its credit limit, but since Fulani tends to use freely-issued store loyalty cards we couldn’t possibly comment.

Ice cubes. Toys don’t come any cheaper. We once played at a club, and afterwards Fulani was asked just WHAT was making me squirm so beautifully. All they could see was Fulani’s hand waving above me. He was allowing an ice cube from my brandy glass to drip onto my by then hot body while I was bound, spread-eagled to a bench.

Be careful, though, about inserting ice into orifices other than a mouth. Sudden shocks of cold, if prolonged, can cause damage to more intimate membranes. Drag ice over the skin, drip icy water, then change it up and surprise your sub with…

Candle wax. Candles are cheap, and the best ones for BDSM are paraffin ones (technical note: you need to balance the melting point, the length of time the liquid wax retains heat, and skin sensitivity, which can vary greatly: there’s a short article about this on Wikipedia). Plain white ones are the cheapest, but you can buy coloured ones that Fulani thinks look great once dripped all over me. He likes red, the colour of blood! Suppliers such as Lovehoney sell specially formulated candles; many supermarket ones are only coloured on the outside. If you are unsure about candles you’ve bought, as some burn much hotter than others, test them on your own arm and gauge the distance they need to be from your sub’s skin when dripping wax onto them. You don’t want serious burns, just heat and squirms (OK and maybe some yelps) from your victim. [Edited to add: Bondara.co.uk also do specially formulated bondage candles.]

Scarf. Or scarves. Very handy little items, often available for pennies from charity shops/thrift shops. Blindfold or wrist restraint, just ensure any tie is NOT going to slip and tighten therefore cutting off your victim’s blood supply. If you have enough scarves, once your sub is restrained and blindfolded, tease with one, wafting over the skin, dragging it over their breasts, tender bits etc.

Velvet glove. The first toy I made for myself. Draw a mitten shape around your hand, cut out the shape twice on a piece of paper, cut that out) and use to cut two pieces of velvet (old cushion cover or top, or a velvet shirt from a charity shop) and stitch together round the edges, inside out. Turn the right way in, and use resulting glove to tease the living daylights out of your sub. Or soothe her/him between flogging or spanking strokes. Try a spank/flog followed by a stroke with the glove. Your victim won’t know whether they’re coming… or not.

Your mind. Fulani once gave me a great session. He knows I like to be scared sometimes. He’s a great writer, as you know. So he wrote a script, a scene. He then got his computer to read out the story in one of those weird  computer voices. The story alluded to what was going to happen to me next. When I heard this story, I was hogtied and blindfolded, so no escape! Hot wasn’t in it. Boiling more like! A very steamy session followed, including the things promised in the story, and I Ioved it. Cost? Nothing. Just an investment of time on Fulani’s part, and an active imagination on mine.

So there we are. No need for big expense. Just get creative. I’m sure now you’ve had a few ideas you could think of more. We’d love to hear your ideas to add to our own. Leave YOUR favourite home-made toy ideas in our comments and share the pain!

– Velvet Tripp

Guest posting from Randy Wornhole: Man and the Higher Self?

I have recently realised that where my boyfriend is concerned, if he can’t fuck it, eat it or disassemble and try to rebuild it, he isn’t sure what to do with it.

I realised after talking to several female friends, I seem to have accidentally discovered the TRUE NATURE of men. Simples!

We all have our needs and desires, but at our core is some primeval voice leading us to fulfil our basic drives in order to survive, then when these are met, we allow room to fulfil higher functions. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs backs up this theory. Sometimes I realise that it is easier to get to the first two or three basic levels of need, and stick there, satisfying the animal within, not progressing to the more human traits and needs.

I like the way in which the Chinese try and fulfil basic needs with a higher spiritual fulfilment… A fortune cookie, tries to teach you about the higher self and YOU CAN EAT IT! Pure genius.

Fortune cookie

Fortune cookie

Maybe this is why people now have sayings tattooed on their body, as a way of trying to enlighten their sexual partners while fulfilling sexual need. But this hypothesis does only hold up when the tattoo’s message is of the right calibre. Having the phrase “This entrance welcomes all cummers”, across the top of your bum would not count as higher thought.

In order to completely and utterly help your man attain a greater level of consciousness, you need only combine the hierarchy of needs:

  1. Tie yourself naked to a coffee table.
  2. Spell out on your body using French fries, some deep philosophical saying.
  3. Add a glass of beer with philosophy written on the bottom of the glass.
  4. Make sure that the football is on the TV, and pay to have adverts around the pitch, re-iterating the message you want to get across.

This may work out an expensive, time consuming approach, but hopefully it will get through, at some stage… maybe… well… probably not, but hey at least its worth a shot.

Finally I’d like to finish with a joke, just to clarify the inner workings of the male brain:

ANAL

For the whole 5 years I’ve been with my girlfriend, I’ve been begging her to try anal.

Until one day recently she gave in and said “Right! We can either do anal and spend the rainy day fund on those curtains I want, or, we don’t do anal and we buy the 3D TV you want. Which is it to be?”

At this point I remembered something my Dad told me once. He said “Son, if you just can’t decide, listen to your heart.”

Taking his advice, I found my stethoscope and held it to my chest. My heart’s answer was a resounding ” BumBum BumBum BumBum BumBum… ”

(Anon.)

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This is a historic occasion: the first time we’ve had a guest post on DelDev. Randy Wornhole is a gay comedian whose dress sense ranges from the glamorously goth to the OTT outrageous, and whose humour isn’t so much dark as bizarre, bloodcurdling, corrupt, demented, disturbing, foul, grisly, infernal, malignant, morbid and panic-inducing. It is pretty funny though.

Randy Wornhole

Randy Wornhole

Here’s a link to his blog.