The Romance of Chastisement

The Romance of Chastisement

Plausibility and the Spanking Story Pt 1


Fiction is the art of convincing the reader to suspend disbelief.  When one sets out to write a spanking story it is almost the first thing that must be considered. So the issue is: how does it turn out that this person in this story gets a spanking? This is an issue for any writer in this genre because in today’s real world, spankings of adults and teenagers do not occur in the normal course of events. They are, instead, extraordinary events. It takes a particular set of circumstances to bring two adults to that point at which they become part of a conflict that results in this embarrassing, rude, painful physical punishment. To put it bluntly, legally, spanking is assault and battery. So how does one establish in the story that it does occur, and occurs in a way that the reader finds plausible? That is the challenge for the writer.

A major failure of many writers of such fiction is the failure to establish plausibility. In too many stories there is an argument, or perhaps an offense has been committed, and without any explanation whatsoever one of the characters is upended and spanked or agrees to be spanked without any explanation as to why. Really?  That would almost never happen in real life. Sometimes the explanation is offered that this was by prior agreement. But that takes all the conflict out of the tale and we are left with a mechanical description of the proceedings. Much more interesting is how they got to that point in the first place. Another cop out is the “scene” story in which both parties are “spankos” anyway. But there is no real story here unless the story is actually all about someone being drawn into the lifestyle. Thus many spanking stories end up as mere descriptions of a “scene” that takes place in the bedroom or the study or wherever, but there is no resolution of conflict.

So how do you establish that the spanking itself is the natural and inevitable result of events in the story?. One way is setting. The further back in time, the more natural and believable it is that someone gets corporally punished for an offense. Victorian England, Medieval times, 16th century Europe, The 19th century American West, 1950’s and earlier anywhere---all of these settings are fertile ground because as we know, historically, CP was more the norm, not the unusual exception.

Another way to establish plausibility is to actually create a world in which CP is normal. This is the same type of world building that science fiction/fantasy writers must do. The fantasy world can be a nation, town, a family, a club, a cult, or a group on a desert island, but the writer must explain why that society came to accept that CP was normal. And in many of such cases that is the major part of the story. Interesting enough, once such world building has been accomplished, just about any plot construction can be employed to create and resolve conflict so that CP is employed.

Finally, in contemporary settings one must fully develop the characters, their attitudes and personalities, and add situational context. This is the hardest one, because a writer is bucking modern cultural norms by even suggesting that CP is ever appropriate. The plot can be set up so that someone is warned that some types of behavior will not be tolerated and it must be established that such a person understands the consequences. Another plot device is to establish that one party seeks it---to assuage guilt, for excitement, as an agreed upon forfeit, or many other reasons. But in all such cases the back story must be developed so that when it happens the reader agrees that, of course, this fits the story and the characters. The last thing you want as a writer is to have your reader thinking that the whole spanking thing doesn’t logically follow or is preposterous on its face. The rule that I have adopted in my own writing is that I will not create a situation that would be likely to result in criminal prosecution, a suit for assault and battery, or a visit from family and children’s services.

Once that hurdle is overcome, there comes the matter of details. Clothing, implement, and severity are all story elements that are routinely abused as far as plausibility goes. While there should be some artistic license, certain facts should be noted. English schoolgirls are not now, nor have they ever been, caned on their bare behinds. Same with American schoolchildren subject to the paddle. Doesn’t happen. Never did. Fathers do not routinely spank teenage daughters bare. Mothers do not spank teenage sons bare. I recently came across a story in which a young girl recounted to her date that she was spanked bare by her father three times a week, that spankings were the only form of punishment in their household, that she had just been spanked by her father, that it turned her on and would her date be so kind as to spank her, and this is after she had spent ten painful minutes across her father’s knee earlier that evening. There is absolutely no verisimilitude here and no reader could possibly suspend disbelief and accept this chain of events as any form of reality.

 To make this happen in a story the writer must establish some extraordinary circumstance. I once wrote a story in which a teenage boy was paddled bare by a teacher in a school setting. How? By having the boy ask to be paddled in lieu of suspension and when that request failed, by offering to take the swats bare by lowering his own pants. He was then paddled in private with a witness present, all done according to school rules. Now even this strains credulity, but at least I offered a plausible reason why such an event could take place.

Implements and strokes are often not plausible. Twenty minutes of spanking with a hard hairbrush is impossibly harsh. Spanking by hand followed by belt, followed by paddle, then by cane is to me, overkill. (Again, I’m not talking about seasoned players enacting a scene.) An author should pick a discreet punishment idea and stick with it. If it’s 10 licks with a paddle—ok, that’s it. At some point a multi-implement ordeal departs the realm of plausibility. Worse, it bores the reader.

Frequency can be a problem, especially in novels. I’ve noticed this lately in the “spanking romance” genre. The heroine who is alternately, bratty, headstrong, or willful seems to be spanked in every chapter by the alpha male hero. I read one novel in which a spanking happened about every three pages. This is way too much and waters down the essential drama by making the extraordinary mundane. When the spankings become mundane and ordinary, they lose their effect as dramatic devices. It is much better, I think to develop a plot in which events build to a breaking point before punishment commences.

Many I’m sure will disagree with my observations. That’s ok. I welcome the discussion. We all need to have discussions like this to elevate the art. I’ve read really great stories and really bad ones and I want to see more really good ones.

1 comment:

Cara Bristol said...

Saw your comment on Ana's blog about my post and thought I'd stop by. Good post here! I do agree with what you've laid out. A story between two Spankos would lack the conflict that would make it a story. Any form of fiction requires the suspension of disbelief, but it's possible to push it too far. And what is true in real life, often is not believable in fiction. Excessively harsh spankings fall into the realm of fantasy rather than contemporary fiction.