Plausibility part 2
I’ve been reading a lot of stories lately and I’m noticing something. It occurs to me that the genre of spanking related fiction has some unique problems. In most erotic literature there never needs to be much of a justification for a sexual encounter. Chemistry can exist wherever characters are thrown together, and sex can follow naturally. But, unlike sex, a spanking administered by one character to another is not a natural occurrence. It requires peculiar circumstances and a certain amount of character and/or story development to explain. Too often, it seems, the author fails to do this. I then find that the spanking scene is forced, unnatural or contrived— based on the flimsiest of grounds. At worst it amounts to a criminal assault, and at best it seems unnaturally forced into the story line like a square peg in a round hole.
What I am not talking about here is the story in which a couple is already in a DD relationship or a “scene” story which is often merely a first person account of an incident between two willing spankophiles, i.e., a sub visits his domme, or a couple who met online have an encounter. Instead, I’m talking about fiction in which there is no previous or pre-arranged domestic discipline element.
Whatever relationship the characters have, it is very necessary to lay the groundwork in order for what follows to make sense. Too often I see no groundwork at all. Too often the spanking scene seems to pop up out of nowhere For example, the story may describe some disagreement between boy and girl and the next thing you know, the girl is over the fellow’s knee while he doles out a spanking. The reader is being asked to accept that this action is natural without any justification whatsoever. I mean, why a spanking? Why not yell or curse or walk out? What gives your character the right to lay hands on this person in such an intimate way? Many times the author doesn’t say. You don’t want the reader scratching his/her head saying ‘what? why did he think he could do that?’
It’s worse in contemporyay settings. Actions by a male pursuing a female that seemed “romantic” in years gone by would now be viewed as “creepy” at best or cause for a stalking order or harrassment lawsuit at worst. Thirty plus years of feminism and political correctness have changed the landcape considerably and a writer of spanking fiction in a contemporary setting must take this into account. The agrressive pusuit of the female, even for the genuinely interseted romantic male, in modern times is a risky endeavor.
It didn’t used to be this way.
If you remember the old romantic movies of the 30’s and 40’s, heroines did get spanked by the male lead. They were often in a developing romantic relationship, but the spanking was very definitely non-consensual. But, this nearly always was at the end of the movie and was in fact the climax of the film. The entire movie had been moving in this direction, establishing that the heroine was a brat and by the time the hero finally takes her in hand, the audience is cheering him on. Writers of spanking fiction need to be reminded of this. They need to develop their characters so that the “rightness” of the scene is fully developed. Great examples are the scenes in McClintock!
Too often writers take the lazy shortcut and say that the character was “a spanko” or “had always wanted to be spanked”. But this reduces the story to one that appeals only to the narrow segment of readers who are “in the scene”. It is, to use a phrase, too much “inside baseball”. I’d never use that technique in a story to justify the spanking scene. Authors should imagine that they are writing for a wider audience, not just the spankophile community. Labeling characters as “spankos” does nothing to help the scene and in fact detracts from it. Where is the drama? Drama can exist if the character is in a process of discovery about his/her desires, but it should not be so obvious.
So how do you do this? There are a number of ways. First, look at the culture of the times. Wife or girlfriend spanking was more easily accepted in times past. Establish the expectations of the characters within that cultural framework. Second, use foreshadowing or perhaps warnings. If she has been warned, it makes lots more sense later when the heroine does get spanked. I think this is almost essential. The character has to know that what he/she is about to do could result in serious consequences. Third, make it just. It should not be a trivial fault that results in something as drastic as a spanking. Fourth, is one party in a position of authority over the other? Is spanking an accepted consequence? Is that a given?
When the spanking scene finally arrives it should be a climactic moment. It should never be ordinary or business as usual. If it is entirely consensual or even desired, the desire should build over the course of the story. Maybe the character is not even aware that this is what he/she wants. It has to be subtle.
If it is a scene between willing participants, one technique is to disguise it. Make it a story in which things are not what they seem. Remember the scene in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” between the Robert Redford and Catherine Ross characters? It looked like rape. Actually they were lovers. The audience was fooled. That’s what a writer should do.
Build the momentum for the eventual reckoning or develop it so that if a character is to be spanked, your reader is in agreement that this is what should happen, that it flows naturally and is not a jarring, out-of-context or bizarre act. Remember, even if she made some serious mistake at the office, lost the car keys, stayed out too late, or burned the toast, it does not follow that the male lead will spank her for that unless that facet of the relationship seems natural. Maybe he warned her, maybe they discussed it, maybe she suggested it. Whatever technique you use, establish the frame of reference. If you do your readers will say “yes” instead of scratching their heads and wondering why in the world the characters just did that.