On Dominance in Erotic Fiction: A few Questions

I spotted this over at Remittance Girl’s Blog and have been turning it over in my brain. Go look at her entry here.

For my purposes I will de-gender the questions because that is how my mind works. Okay, let’s go in.

1. As an author of erotic fiction, what assets or personality traits do you believe make the  lead in a work of erotic fiction attractive to the ‘everyday’ reader?

I think what works in this context depends on a lot of factors. For me as a reader, there aren’t standard traits that make any character work. I really like what RG said:

I need them to have agency and volition – to be agents of change rather than victims of circumstance. I enjoy writing erotic fiction that involves male characters whose erotic attraction doesn’t come from standard measures such as physical attractiveness or wealth

For me what I feel hooks myself as a reader and other readers is that agency. I personally don’t care for things to just happen, someone just happened to spank someone or want to get spanked or whatever. When I write a character I am not just making them so sex or kink can happen. I write them from the perspective of them being a being who has a need. Or I write them from their voice through who they are to what they want and how they get it.

That isn’t to say they are always fully 3d in each story. I do like to read and write stories where all you get of the lead character or narrator is a slice, a piece or a shadow. That’s one of the joys of using discretion in creation.

2.) In stories regarding a Dominant and Submissive, why do you think readers have an impulsive reaction to be attracted to either or?

I think a lot of readers of erotica are just like readers of anything else. There is something they have a desire for and something about a story speaks to them. For me, I can be hooked by a great line or idea. I think a lot of the reasons why we read what we read rely on those impulses or long standing desires.

I think readers react because that’s what humans do. Some of us are attracted to things that will make us feel warm and fuzzy in the pants. Some of us like something more challenging. I think the why is pretty simple, people like things. All different things and that is what is kind of great about humanity. Sometimes.

Personally, I like a buffet style approach to my reading. Sometimes I want mcdonalds fries and a shake, sometimes I want filet mignon. I don’t think my taste for either is mutually exclusive.

3.) a.) What is it about domination that the characters themselves find appealing? b.) And what do you think is it about the concept of domination that readers find appealing?

a.) What is it about domination that the characters themselves find appealing?

I think in my work it varies pretty widely. In one I can think of, it was mainly about the fluidity of power exchange. I personally really enjoy writing doms in ways that let them explore their own feelings in terms of why they are doing what they are doing. In others, I’m thinking of a story I have sitting in my to be edited folder. The dom in the moment does not understand why he’s doing what he’s doing. He feels a compulsion to do it and part of what I find interesting about this character is that underlying his desire he’s terrified.

b) And what do you think is it about the concept of domination that readers find appealing?

That I don’t know about. I know what I find appealing. When it’s done in a way that I find both arousing or interesting from more than an OH SPANKING perspective it’s appealing. It might not turn me on per se, but I will be interested. I will say I think a lot of people are drawn to the things that seem to be or feel like are beyond their own lives.

Isn’t that why a lot of us read fiction? To spy on other worlds and lives? Well, that’s why I read fiction. I am essentially an incredibly nosy..er let’s be nice and say curious person. I want to know what’s driving a thing.

I also enjoy a diverse range of expressions of the concepts of domination. I’m not personally into the generalized whips, chains n bitch boots. I am far more interested in things that aren’t quite so showy. I have a story in my drafts where the domination is done through under the table knee squeezes and glances. I love that.

4.) What kind of connection do the submissive and dominant characters have to have? Is it both physically and mentally?

I don’t believe there is a prescriptive “have to”.

In  my meatspace life, I have experienced connections that were both exclusively physical or mental. I believe that there is no correct way for these connections and relationships to be done or written.

Part of why I enjoy writing submissive and dominant characters is to explore the ways in which people can connect. Somewhere, probably on my dead PC at home, I have a story where the connection is lost in the present moment, but present in memory and focused on a piece of a razor blade.

There is a vast expanse of ways to explore how people connect with each other. I feel like D/S can have such a rich diversity of ways these relationships work. I am very greedy and just want to see more.

I want to see more writers explore a connection that is mental by necessity. Long distance lovers, disabled lovers etc.

D/S as it might take place in other worlds. There is so much room for conjecture and exploration.

Okay, while I was thinking about this I also was thinking about more of the reasons I’ve mainly abandoned the industry side of Erotica.

This is no shade to the asker of these questions at all, I do feel like there is a bit of a prescriptive tone and that seems to go along with a lot of what I’m seeing in the industry. Things must adhere to what I feel are fairly narrow parameters and I honestly think that’s terribly boring.

Personally most of what I’ve been writing in terms of kink is outside of these constraints. I have a deep burning desire to explore desire, dominance and submission through lenses that are not so strictly stuck in gender roles or ideas about what does and doesn’t make someone dominant or submissive.

One of the stories I have in my Etsy shop right now (the one titled Call me Lolita) is not D/S in a classical sense.

This story is hetero only in that both characters ID as cis male/female.

However.

This story at the bottom is about gender fucking and trust.

In a deeper sense it is about the depth of connection a man has with his dominant lover and how that connection and trust enables him to redefine masculinity for himself. To find the place where in more traditional kinky stories it’d be called “sub space”, what he feels is the place where he can be a girl. In this case his submission is not just submission. For him it becomes liberation from the prescriptive ideas about gender and masculinity.

So when I say that I’m interested in the wide open areas of writing kink and writing dominant characters and submissive characters this is what I’m talking about. Yes, I want folks who read it to get good and hot in the pants, but I also want to drop these things about gender roles in their ears.

This is the part of writing erotica that I missed when I wasn’t writing much of it.

I want the complications.

I want to go back to when I was 18ish and reading amazing Queer erotica that just took me places I didn’t understand and that made me uncomfortable.

I want to distill that powerful combination of discomfort and arousal I got in those early days (think old school Black books) and spread it all over everyone.

I don’t want to say I’m transcending but it feels transcendent.

This is the type of transgression that fuels me both as a writer and a reader.  This is how I think about not only the erotica I write but everything. I want to be the sort of writer who might take you someplace that makes you uncomfortable, but I want you to want to go on the ride with me and stick it out.

 

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2 thoughts on “On Dominance in Erotic Fiction: A few Questions

  1. “I am far more interested in things that aren’t quite so showy. ”

    I agree. I often feel the theatre and overt uniform and roles that are a feature of how BDSM is shown in the mainstream kind of defeat the true resistance and rejection of the social order that is really going on underneath.

    Great post!

  2. Jim

    “I agree. I often feel the theatre and overt uniform and roles that are a feature of how BDSM is shown in the mainstream kind of defeat the true resistance and rejection of the social order that is really going on underneath.”

    Well put RG.

    In my mind, “showy” Dominance is akin to fucking, while more subtle (knee-squeeze under the table) is more akin to seduction (McDonalds vs 7-course French dinner).

    Both have their place!

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