Sunday, July 15, 2012

On Writing BDSM in "Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street"...


When I decided to write "Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street" and add BDSM as an erotic element to the romance between the two main characters, it wasn't something I took lightly. In the past four or five years I've posted more than once about BDSM novels and that I'd never really done it. One short story, "Bury it Officer," which was published in an anthology by Cleis Press a few years ago, and then released as a stand alone short story by Loveyoudivine.com, was the closest I ever got to the subject. It is about a dominant and a submissive, yet very tame.

But Jonah Sweet was completely new territory for me because it was a full length novel. And I was doing it alone, without a publisher to back me up. I did as much research online as I could, and then I asked a friend more about the interaction between people with regard to BDSM. He has a "playroom" and he's been into all kinds of BDSM for a long time. He helped a great deal. It wasn't that he told me what to do to get it right; it was more about what he told me NOT to do to get it right. His most important piece of advice was that BDSM is more about emotion and psychological factors than anything. At least that's how he experiences it.

At least I had it easy in one respect. With Jonah Sweet I couldn't get into anything too serious as far as the BDSM went. Jonah is very inexperienced and he's just learning the basics of BDSM, from the physical details to the psychological elements. All he knows is that he feels the need to be dominated...and to be very submissive. In his case, it's a natural, instinctive feeling. And David, the dominant character, knows exactly what he's doing.

The other thing I wanted to do was to separate the BDSM fun and games from what happens in their real lives. In other words, although Jonah wants to be dominated and controlled in sexual situations by David, he does NOT want to be dominated and controlled in real life situations by anyone. And that wasn't easy to do. David is a control freak beyond all measure. He wants to control Jonah at ALL times. And I didn't let that happen. I also had to show a vulnerable side to David, so he wouldn't come off looking like a monster to the readers.

I don't think there will be a sequel to this book. And one reason is that I would have to do a great deal of intense research to move the BDSM to another level...from an introduction level to Jonah learning more and gaining more experience. And I'm not sure I'm ready to go there, so to speak. The one thing I did learn about BDSM is that there's nothing simple about it, and yet at the same time it's the simplest thing to those who are into it.

Here's a link to a post I found where I think the author made a few excellent points. I didn't read this post while I was writing JSODS because I didn't want to be influenced by anyone else (the one thing I read is that BDSM varies with people). I've also heard that different authors approach it in different ways. I wanted my approach to come from a POV of inexperience...because I am so inexperienced with BDSM...and I didn't want to do or say anything in the book that would sound contrived. It's also a perfect example of an erotic romance where the sex could be toned down, or even removed, and the story would stand on its own.

2 comments:

Shelagh said...

Er... you forgot to include the link in the last paragraph :D

I really liked that Jonah wasn't a doormat and was quite prepared to call David out when he was being an arse.

ryan field said...

Sorry...link added :)

I wanted to make Jonah even more stubborn at times, but I didn't think it would work with him. I like BDSM stories that are more like Taming of the Shrew. Where the one who is submissive is almost forced into submission, which is really what he/she wants all along. But I didn't think that would work with Jonah. He was just too innocent and agreeable. But at the same time no fool.