Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Line I Cannot Cross, Even In My Writing

I don't usually do posts on my writing, but once in a  while, I make an exception. 

Since finishing up Blood and Desire, Seduction and Murder, I've been working on (what's supposed to be, anyway) my next book, King Thrushbeard: An Erotic Fairy Tale
I actually started this book before B&D,S&M. I got about 20,000 words into it...and then I had to stop. There were too many holes in the sequence of actions, too many questions of motives I couldn't answer; and if I can't explain the motives of my characters, if I can't make sense of the plot in my own head, there's no fucking way I can expect my readers to. 

While I was writing B&D, S&M, I let King Thrushbeard stew in my head for a while. If you're a writer, you know what that's like: letting the characters breathe a little bit so they can reveal, one scene at a time, what they want, and what they're willing to do to get it.
Once B&D, S&M was done, I started in on King Thrushbeard once again.
And again.
And again.
I have never had to do so many plot revisions and re-writes with a manuscript before. Never. This book is driving me fucking nuts. 
But I think I've finally figured out my basic problem.

In many of my books and stories, I push the envelope a little bit, and dance around the issue of consent. I force my submissives into situations that make them struggle to resist the urge to flee; sometimes, I don't even give them the option to flee. I dive into portrayals of dubious consent, consensual non-consent, and the like.
In all my Hotel Bentmoore stories, all the characters are there at the hotel because they want to be there. It might not be for the kinky sex, it might be for different reasons entirely, like making their Master happy, or saving their marriage; they may even have been blackmailed into it. But for whatever the reason, the characters always have the choice to be there. Nobody put a gun to their heads and forced them to step one foot into the hotel. They always have their safeword, and they always have the option to leave. 
In my other book, The Taming of Red Riding, the heroine is kind of seduced into a D/s relationship. But again, she enters into it on her own volition, and gives her full consent. In fact, the Dom refuses to enter into their dynamic until he has her complete, and vocal, agreement. 

So as a writer, I am willing to play around with dubious consent and consensual non-consent. 
What I'm not willing to do is cross the line into true non-consent. I'm not willing to give the Dom complete allowance to "have his way" with a sub unless he is completely sure it is what she wants.
Because even if the submissive ends up loving what he does to her, even if she ends up having twenty thousand orgasms and can't imagine sex being anything else every you know what it's called when a man forces himself on a woman who isn't consenting?
And I will not go there. Not even if, "in the end," the submissive loves it, and it fulfills all her heretofore unknown fantasies. 
A guy who engages in BDSM with a woman without knowing he has prior consent is not a Dom, he's just an asshole. 
I will not write my heroes to be assholes. 

So. I will need to re-write, yet again; and this time, I will have to find a way for my hero to seduce—or force, if necessary—prior consent from my heroine to engage in some heavy BDSM before any action happens. 
She may be his prisoner, and he may have full rights to her body, but that's not good enough. She may discover that she loves the way he treats her, but that's still not good enough. 
She has to give prior consent, in some way, for him to begin to go down this path with her. No matter what her reasoning is, no matter why she agrees, on some level, he must know she wants it, too, before he lays a finger on her.
Once that happens? I think the scenes will fly.

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