Lit Gal (lit_gal) wrote in shared_wisdom,
Lit Gal

Kinky writing

Kink. That's what I was asked to write about. I've stared at this screen, written, deleted, rewritten, and redeleted so often that I don't know if this makes sense, but I've tried to give a few of my thoughts on writing the non-vanilla sex scenes. As hard as this was, don't ever expect meta from me again. Ever. Okay, before we get started, I do want to point out one thing: YMMV! Your Milage May Vary!! Everyone reacts differently to things. For some, figging is deeply painful. For others, it's a very controllable heat that has very little to do with pain. So, for the love of god, don't take anything here as gospel.

My kinky rule #1:
The kink must match the emotional truth of the character.

Sexuality is a reflection of a person. Whether a person is gay, straight, or bi, vanilla or kinky, dominant or submissive, that drive is a part of a larger personality. When the kink doesn't "match" the personality, the sex scenes feel forced and (no pun intended) masturbatory. In Toys, Xander is emotionally damaged.
"Part of him wanted to just break into the open sobbing that would bring Spike to his side, petting and soothing him, but Xander couldn't let go. He couldn't allow himself to give in to that need, not with Spike, not until the pain wiped out all the other fears and angers and frustrations and hatred."

He doesn't actually want pain, but the pain is the only thing that allows him to openly show the deeper hurts—the fear and the isolation—that he's living with as he watches his friends grow apart and is left the loser going from one pathetic job to another. Xander in canon does hide his feelings, so taking this habit of hiding himself and applying it to his sexuality leaves him very open to masochistic and submissive tendencies.

And for Spike in that story, he's been chipped so that he can't be the vicious vampire he wants to be. This means that he needs to feel all-powerful and he needs to cause some pain because that's what's been taken from him. But in canon, Spike is also a caretaker, fussing over Dru (and later Buffy). So, once Xander breaks, then Spike gets to indulge that side of his personality.

The only other story I have with this much kink is The Witness/The Observer. The sub in that, Blair, is an intelligent man who was raised to meditate and express his feelings. If I put that same masochistic streak in Blair, it wouldn't be Blair anymore. Instead, when describing his need to submit, he tells a very skeptical Jim that he does it for the pure enjoyment. In this story, Blair is into puppy play… getting locked into puppy bondage so that he's crawling around on the ground for the day. When Jim points out that this is humiliating, Blair laughs and says,
"Degrading? Oh man, it's really something to just forget all the worries about school and money and which woman I've pissed off this week and just play. I get to lay by the fire and eat treats and annoy Mr. Espinoza until he puts me on the leash just to keep me from stealing his slippers. Man, don't knock it until you've tried it."

Xander is not self aware enough to just feel (and certainly not to feel and admit) a preference for this sort of sexual play. So, does that mean that certain characters are 'locked out' of particular kinks? Hell no. I could make Blair masochistic. I just couldn't make him masochistic for the same reason Xander is. I might create a scenario where Blair, who is short and sometimes gets razzed for not being very manly, might find pain empowering because he's proving that he can take it. He really might enjoy the crack of the cane and the look of admiration from a partner who watched Blair endure without more than a whimper. I could make Blair into a sadistic top, but even as he caused pain, he would be focused on providing his sub whatever his sub needed because Blair does care about others. He would never revel in causing pain like Spike does.

I guess, the short version is, figure out what makes your characters tick and then transfer that into their sexual practices. What do they want/desire/need? What do they fear/loathe? What motivates them? Money? Honor? Reputation? Make your sexuality match that basic characterization.

Kinky corollary #1A
Not all kink is sexual.

The kink must match the emotional truth of a character, even when that emotional truth isn't sexual. I know, it sounds like kink and sex are the same thing, but often times they aren't. In The Witness, Blair performs as a sub for many men, but it's about money and more importantly, having a chance to turn off that big brain of his and relax. Yep, dressing up like a puppy and getting chained is his form of meditation.

In Thoughts Colored Ugly, Jayne—the big bruiser of a mercenary—has to face the fact that the woman he tried to betray, River, has finally recovered enough of her sanity to consciously realize what he did. She's not particularly angry because she reads minds and understands that he was motivated by fear and by a desire to protect the others on the ship. She also knows that he can't forgive himself. He thinks what he did was unforgivable. So, when she makes him lean against a piece of equipment while she takes a whip to him, when she continues until he's bleeding and he finally allows himself to sink into subspace, it has nothing to do with sex. It's about forgiveness.

For Jim in Guidelines, he has to tie Blair up before having sex. It's not a sexual kink at all. Jim doesn't want to do it and feels deeply guilty about it. But he's a Sentinel with highly developed and vulnerable senses, and after nearly being raped by a man who manipulated his senses, Jim has trouble trusting. It's not even that he doesn't trust Blair; it's that he has flashbacks.

So kinkiness is not always sexual.  Sometimes it fills an emotional need/hole that nothing else can quite touch.

My kinky rule #2:
B is not D is not S is not M.

A character can be into bondage without being into getting dominated. Blair in The Witness adores bondage. When Jim tries to tell him what to do at work (thinking to 'take care of' Blair), Blair rips him a new asshole. Blair has drawn his line, and he is not about to be dominated.

In Beautiful Broken, Xander enjoys bondage because it gives him a feeling of safety knowing that Spike is the only holding the key. After being 'broken' by slavers, he is totally submissive. He enjoys some light pain and can endure very large amounts. However, when Spike hunts down one of the demons who enslaved Xander and tortures him, Xander draws his line. Xander kills the demon and puts him out of his misery when Spike wanted to keep going all night, pulling off one scale at a time. Xander cannot tolerate being sadistic at all, not even against someone who hurt him.

In Learning Curve, Xander loves submitting and knowing that someone else is there to control him if he lets his new-found powers get out of control, but the thought of pain makes his balls crawl back up into his body.

A character can like one part of kink while categorically rejecting others. So, decide what your characters like, what they don't like, what their hard limits are and where they're willing to explore.

My kinky rule #3:
Fantasy or reality—just know what you're writing.

Fantasy kink is fine. In fantasy kink, the human body can take anything, enjoy anything, and bounce right back after an hour-long session. If you have a fantastic setting or a PWP, I think some readers even expect fantasy kink. Toys is more on the fantasy side, and that started as a PWP, so I had no guilt about putting Xander through more than the human body could realistically endure. Certainly, you can always label your piece fantasy and get away with anything. A quick: "This is pure fantasy and does not reflect realistic sexual practices" will warn anyone to not nitpick your sex scenes.

Realistic kink works better in a realistic story. Most of my stories are written around actual *gasp* plot. I try to have my kink be realistic because when the realism of a crime case or an adventure is put up against unrealistic kink, one or the other seems wildly out of place. So, in Recovery Epic, Blair and Jim are trying out the gay thing. Their first time in bed consists of some 'ow's and Jim refusing to do the deed because he can smell blood. A fantasy first time in the middle of them realistically trying to find their way thought a relationship would have absolutely undermined the message of the story.

Kinky corollary #3A
If you're writing reality, be realistic.

This is the one thing that does bug me—fantasy disguised as realism. If your story is realistic and most of your sex is realistic, and then you have your sub endure some horribly dangerous/painful act with no repercussions, that's the one place that I'm guaranteed to hit the back button. I've seen people write sex scenes that make me cringe because they're written in realistic style with obvious fantastic elements because the realistic outcome would be a trip to the hospital. Things I've read that made me go googly eyed…

  • Hanging someone by their arms for hours. Hanging causes compression on the lungs, which causes swelling around the lungs, which causes more compression, which causes suffocation.
  • Hanging someone upside down for hours. Blood goes to head, heart can't pump fast enough to get it back out, massive headache, unconsciousness, burst blood vessel, death.
  • Restraining a person with their limbs taut for hours. Limbs cramp, muscles can't contract, limbs cramp more, circulation goes wonky, excruciating pain.

My kinky rule #4:
Less is more.

Some of the scenes that people will tell me are my sexiest, are scenes with no sex. In Second Verse, Xander has gotten a job at a gay bar. Three men circle him, slipping dollars into his waistband and generally harassing him with gentle touches and innuendo. Spike shows up. I can't tell you how often people have told me how sexy that scene is. Xander is wide-eyed and a little lost at being able to inspire lust. The men are desperate to make Xander as horny as they are. Spike is cool and deliberate, and under that, just as horny as the three men. And Xander is clueless. There's no sex, but the underlying sexual tension and confusion reads as sexy.

The Witness actually won the Light My Fire Awards (the one and only awards site for The Sentinel) for Best Multipartner/Kink. There are no multipartners. There is no sex! None. Zero. Zip. No one comes in that entire story. There is teasing and groaning and desire and long looks and the occasional questioning of sexual self-identity, but no sex.

Don't think that you can make your story sexy by rushing to the sex. Sex is eating the chocolate bar. Sexy is the anticipation of eating that chocolate bar. Let the audience anticipate.

My kinky rule #5:
Be creative in finding new kinks that do it for you.

If your sex scenes are always the dom grabbing some cuffs and chaining your sub up before plowing into him, that's going to get boring. Kink is the spicy, exotic food counterpart to vanilla sex. But if you have the same spicy, exotic food every day, the spice becomes vanillaish. So, explore. I think people interpret my work as spectacularly kinky (even though I have far more plot than porn in my work) because of the variety of kinks I play with. So, try out something new and different.

Anonymous sex/masks/hidden identity
Auctions (charity or actual slavery)
Biological imperative (pon farr, bonding, etc)
Body modification
Body swap
Breath play
Brothels/prostitution/prostitution role play
Butt plugs
Cock control
Cock worship
Comeplay (play with the stuff, use it to mark the sub)
Crush fetish (one physically laying on/overpowering the other)
Delayed gratification
Dry humping (come in the pants even)
Double penetration
Dominance fight
Electrical shock
Fetishes (and anything can be a fetish)
Fisting (ow, but doable)
Foot worship/boot worship
Forced celibacy (or forced orgasm)
Gagging (ball gag, cock gag, underwear)

Heat play (hot packs, hot water, heating pad)
Human furniture
Japanese rope bondage
Marking (hickies, biting, long stripes from the cane)
Marking with jewelry, piercings, tattoos
Masturbation as performance art
Medical restraints
Mind control
Mock Attack
Mud/grease/dirt (and rolling around in)
Multiple partners
Oral sex
Pony play
Predatory role play
Public sex
Pulling the train
Puppy pile
Puppy play
Ripping of clothing
Ritual Bathing
Sex toys
Shower head
Shower sex
Sixty nine
Spell/Aphrodisiac/Alcohol made 'em do it

And I don't know how useful (or how Narcissistic) this might be, but that is about all I have to say about kink.
Tags: lit_gal, speaker
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