Saturday, January 15, 2011

Research And A Writer's Life

(Notice: this blog was originally posted 1/14/11 at

I love writing what I write, but the research... my that can be interesting as well. Even more interesting is that I find some of my research has leaked into my everyday life. Main example being: In communications within Dominant/submissive relationships, at least those I've learned about while I was researching, it happens that the Dominant's name is written to begin

with a capital letter. This is common in the vanilla world as well through the application of proper grammar and spelling rules. Proper names always begin with a capital letter. But in the D/s lifestyle, when communicating through snail mail or email, submissives often do not begin their names with a capital letter. Even references to self, such as the use of the word "I", are kept in lower case.

This practice has made me very conscious of how I sign emails. If I accidently miskey an i or the q on my name, I make sure to correct it before hitting the send button. Not because I identify with any specific role in the Lifestyle (although if push came to shove I would probably consider myself a switch), but because my research has made me aware of the differences between communication styles based in D/s or vanilla worlds.

That being said, in my research I have learned there are as many reasons and philosophies of Dominant/submissive lifestyles as there are people who participate in it. There are books that discuss these varied philosophies, and --in my opinion-- the good ones usually caution readers interested in D/s to do as much research as possible before stepping into a situation they might not be ready for.

As with any relationship, each one is unique. How one partner relates to the other is based on the established levels of trust and pre-established rules. Fantasy is healthy if approached with an open mind and mutual consent. My writing takes into consideration a fantasized rendition of the D/s lifestyle. I don't advise anyone participate in "scene play" without establishing a relationship of trust with a partner with whom a firm foundation of respect exists.

In fiction, Dominants are often portrayed as powerful, all-knowing men or women who can easily identify a submissive simply by looking at the person (male or female). While submissives seem to take on the role of someone eager to please and willing to do as they're told by anyone in order to gain their own satisfaction, whether emotional or sexual. I freely admit I have been guilty of these same portrayals of characters with my own writing. At least I did before I began paying closer attention to details and did more research.

I try to reflect this understanding in my writing and often times I discover comments and snippets of conversations in my stories border on lessons for the uninitiated. Whether its the establishment of rules or a piece of "play" equipment, the teacher in me takes center stage in an effort to allow full comprehension within the reader (or even another character) to take place. In some cases, I think it almost detracts from the story. I try to incorporate enough character reaction or influence to keep from pulling the reader out of the story, but I worry that I'm not as successful as I'd hope.

As an author or reader, have you ever experienced a passage or dialogue that "taught" something? I have and, in many instances, I've been removed from the story enough that I've either stopped reading the book for a few days, or I've actually gone off to check the facts before returning to the story. If you have run across or written a similar scene, did it pull you out of the story or did it enhance the personality of the character doing the teaching?


Fiona McGier said...

Not as a reader, but as a writer, I have incorporated this into my books when it was useful. In Analysis Of Love, the heroine was told by her boss to seduce then destroy the reputation of a psychologist who uses the tenets of Maslow's self-actualization theories as the basis for his treatments. She poses as a patient, and they go through the steps together during the course of the book. I've had that mentioned in reviews specifically, that the readers enjoyed learning while they were getting into the romance also. But it has to be done carefully, and not in a didactic manner.

Qwillia Rain said...

Thanks for responding, Fiona. It helps to know I'm not the only one who does this when writing.