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Michal Scott

What makes something BDSM?

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Hi all,

I don't know if I've posted this in the right place, but I need some advice. Does one spanking scene qualify a story as BDSM? My gut says no, but my publisher has it as a descriptor for my upcoming novella. Wouldn't someone looking for a story incorporating a BDSM relationship be disappointed?

 

Edited by Michal Scott
Words were omitted in original post

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Hi! This is a fuzzy one ... BDSM is a "lifestyle" and a very large category. Just found this very useful high-level view of the concept.

There are also ... tropes and expectations from readers depending on the publisher, and the subgenre you choose to publish in. Spanking is often the vanilla way people ease into BDSM (whether reading about it, writing it, or practicing it), and it's the "Discipline" concept covered in that link above. But, there are many ways to discipline, and spanking is just one of them.

It is one of the most common ones depicted in an erotic romance featuring BDSM, but it is also very common in vanilla, mainstream, H/E/A and can even appear in sweetheart love stories with a more wholesome "mien." 

I think the question is -- does the spanking scene strongly influence the turn of events / evolution of your characters? If so, it's probably BDSM, but moreso a story of domination/discipline. But all a reader has to do is read the description of your story wherever it's published and they'll know if it's got the type of BDSM kink they want to read. If it's just a random moment of fun and not really done in the "spirit" of domination/submission, then, that's an argument to perhaps remove the label.

If you're *uncomfortable* having your work labeled in this way, that's a different issue. If you write sweetheart romance or something and don't want to be associated as an author with the category, just ask them to remove it.

 

 

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As someone who writes BDSM, I would agree with Mira. IMHO, a single spanking scene doesn't put a novel or novella into the BDSM category--but like Mira said, it ALL depends on that particular scene, what its purpose is, and what it accomplishes. 

I have a few questions for you that may spur further thought:

  •  Why did your publisher categorize your novella as BDSM? Did he or she think that would make it sell better? Or did they just not know how to categorize it? You might ask...just to get more information. 
  • How do you feel about the story? Would you characterize your theme as BDSM?
  • How about your characters? Does the spanking create a desire to explore further (on the part of either the spanker or the spankee)? 

It doesn't sound, though, that your intent was to write a BDSM story, and I would go with your gut. Kudos to you about not wanting to misrepresent your story to readers.

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I’d ask your publisher why it’s listed where it is and let them know you’re concerned about reader expectations.

Personally, I would not have dropped this into BDSM, because my experience has been that readers shopping for BDSM are expecting a lot more than one spanking scene. I would, however have added a caution to the blurb for those who might be offended -- or conversely buy because of the warning :-D

Publisher's Note: Spanking scene(s).

 

Margaret Riley
Publisher
ChangelingPress.com

Changelingpress.blogspot.com
Changelingpress.wordpress.com
facebook.com/pages/Changeling-Press-LLC/77772493971

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