“I have leather horse whips, actually,” Rob said.
“Of course. Have you seen my ranch?”
In the first draft of Training Season, I wrote the above exchange, but, believe it or not, I hadn’t written a scene to follow involving the aforementioned whips. It was during the re-working of the draft that I realized that mentioning whips in a book that featured a few BDSM scenes, especially emotionally integral scenes, was like that famous gun in the first act. Once introduced, the whips needed to be used. The question then became when, how, and where to put them into the story. In addition, because I wanted to make sure that the whipping scene in Training Season was done fairly realistically, I did a ton of research into whipping in order to write it.
I consulted practitioners of BDSM, read forum discussions, read some how-to manuals, read a couple of books with whipping sections within them, and watched some videos (some professional porn but several homemade pieces demonstrating the activities I had Rob and Matty engage in). I’m sure I still got some of it wrong, but, for the most part, I think I did an okay job with that scene.
For example, when it came to choosing strike points and which instrument Rob would be willing to use, I took my sweet time. After a lot of research into what whips a rancher would actually have on hand, and what I wanted Rob to be able to do with those whips, I chose quirts rather than longer tail whips because of the control over the force of the strike. A strike can be very painful for a sub without actually being damaging if the dom has good control over the way the whip lands, and, according to my research, quirts provide a much better handle on that kind of precision of place and force than other types of whips.
Now, let’s discuss the chosen strike points. Some, at first blush, seem unlikely or potentially damaging, but given the instruments chosen they were doable. I researched the appropriate number of strikes on any particular strike point to make sure things didn’t go too far. Though, in the book itself, I chose to leave the actual number vague so intensity would build for the reader. If a strike point is given in the book, it is a possible strike point. Do I advise someone at home to have their inexperienced partner use a single tail quirt on their anus? No. If done incorrectly, there could be some serious damage done. But, this is a romance novel, a fantasy, and, thus, in this book, we can assume that Rob has the control and finesse to land the quirt with the kind of force that would cause pain (and it’s an anus, so that’s not a ton of force) and not cause real damage. Having said that, don’t try it at home, kids, or if you do, don’t blame me for any end result of your activity.
In addition to the whips, number of strikes, and strike points, I researched the end result of strikes. For example, I really wanted there to be welts, but given the instruments I chose–triple-tail and single tail quirts–research indicated that even on an untrained ass the marks wouldn’t last for more than a day in the hands of a skilled dom. Given that Training Season is a romance novel and not a how-to manual, we can assume Rob is a skilled enough dom to make that work. (Otherwise, he shouldn’t be doing the scene at all. But, again, that’s for real life, not fiction.)
Which brings me to this lovely rant by Amelia Gormley. I’ll sum up my response to it by saying I agree with all that she says, but I’ll take it one step farther for clarity: just so you know, folks, this book, and any other BDSM novel you read, is not real life. In real life, one would want to really slow down and discuss specific details of activities before any scene involving whips or edge play. But in novels, it’s about the story and the ride, and if it works for the characters and their journey, I’ll take them there. As Amelia puts it, these books are not how-to-BDSM or how-to-condom. Please don’t treat them as such.
And, on a less serious note, I loved researching whips. I loved watching scenes of people using different kinds of whips, and reading reviews of products (whip reviews are awesome!), and I loved the interaction with practitioners. I just love research of all kinds, but this was especially fun!