IF YOU WANT TO BE READ, THINK BEYOND RED
BY KEN CHARLES
Over the years, I’ve written a lot of corporal punishment (CP) stories. I’ve read a lot more, some good to excellent, others poor to virtually unreadable. On balance, more of the stories lean towards the poor end. Why? The answer is that some CP authors fail to give their stories the respect the story deserves. The fundamentals of a CP story are no different than any other tale. Whether the author is writing a flash fiction or a novella, s/he still needs to set a proper scene, and ensure that the reader becomes emotionally invested in the characters.
Whether a story opens with the penitent laying already bare bottomed over someone’s lap, or even standing in a corner sobbing and rubbing a well marked tush, the reasons for CP scene have to grab the reader’s interest. The reasons may be set out explicitly in the story. “Mary swore as she noticed the flashing lights approaching rapidly in the rear view mirror. Bill was very clear about the consequences of a third speeding ticket in less than six months.” The reasons may be set out in indirect action (action that occurs “off stage”). “Bill doubled up the belt, and drew his arm back. He paused, unsure whether this was the right thing to do. However, he had warned Mary about what she should expect if she got another ticket before the end of the year. It was for her own good. He snapped the belt forward with alacrity.” Either way, the reader understands the reason why Mary is to receive a strapping. The underlying reason can be anything the author wants from punishment to role play to sex games. All that matters is that the reader accept the inevitability the CP scene, and that it flows as a natural result of the underlying reason.
My very first CP story was one of the best I ever wrote, “The Walnut Hairbrush", a CP ghost story. After being stood up on a first date, I went home intending to write a “Whack. Ow!" story to blow off steam. Much to my surprise, the story developed a plot. The American heroine flies to London where she discovers that she has an ancestral debt to pay for the accidental death of a young girl that can only be fulfilled by accepting a hundred stroke hairbrush spanking to release the earth bound spirit. I still gave the heroine a long, hard spanking. However, since an actual story surrounds it, other people want to read about it.
The Russians have a saying, “Repetition is the mother of learning.” As an editor, I have a saying, “Repetition is the mother of a rewrite.” This is particularly true when writing a CP story because the author is targeting a niche market that is generally very familiar with the subject matter. Accordingly, a mere spanking will not suffice. The author needs to think rubrication.
There are only so many times in a work that one can describe a “red" or “redder" or “reddened" backside before a reader dozes off. Naughty cheeks can “pinken" before they “redden". A palm print may be white immediately following impact, but will gradually turn pink, then cherry. A well smacked bottom may be red the first time it is described, but the next time it should be crimson, or vermillion, or rubescent or rubicund. The penitent’s well punished puppies can be glowing, hot, burning, searing. blazing or fiery. The clenched orbs may be bruised, contused, marked, lined, or welted. Similarly, there is more than one way to depict an errant bottom, backside, arse, ass, or derriere. Blows need not fall squarely on one cheek or the other, but may fall on either side of the gluteal cleft, or just below the well defined sulcus. By varying the descriptions, the author will keep the reader’s rapt attention.
Longer scenes can be problematic. “Whack. Ow. Whack. Ow. Whack. Ow!" will bore a reader. Merely alternating periods and exclamation marks won’t cut it. Sounds effects may play an integral role in the scene, but these too must vary. A brisk whack may follow a firm smack. Changing the viewing angle and using indirect action can also extend a scene without diminishing its intensity. “Tears welled in her eyes over the next half dozen vicious cracks. A particularly nasty cut finally caused them to roll shamelessly down her cheeks.” In this example, the woman received seven hard strokes without a single “Whack. Ow.”
THE SOLE OF THE MATTER
“Look, Mr. Osbourne, her parents are threatening to sue the Academy. But all they really want is an apology from you.”
“Well, damn their apology! My actions were fully in accordance with the Student Disciplinary Code, Article Six, Section F which states that a third reportable incident in any quarter may result, in the sole discretion of the instructor, in the administration of corporal punishment including up to six strokes with a sole.
“I gave Tamara every opportunity to come into compliance before exercising my discretion, and administering exactly six strokes with a sole.”
“Yes, her parents understand that the rule states that you may administer up to six strokes with a sole, but, dammit man, you’re the golf coach!”
In this example, the entire CP scene occurs off stage. However, the reader understands that Tamara received a harsh punishment.
Using adjectives other than “red”
From “The Reliquary” by Ken Charles
She screams at the first crack. After several seconds, a ruby "Miƒerere" appears highlighted in a pink bar across both cheeks. A second loud whack leaves a fiery offset mirror image a centimeter below the first. By the time the sixth angry "Miƒerere" rises, she has learned at least one lesson.
As I learned with “The Walnut Hairbrush", there is more to a good CP story than just CP. Be creative. Vary the motives, the settings, and the descriptions of the acts. Use a palm in one scene, and a martinet in the next. It’s acceptable to deliver a simple straight forward whack or two once or twice. But sometimes it’s better for a bellicose backhand barrage to bruise the beleaguered backside of a blubbering belladonna. If the author treats the CP story with respect, then the readers will come back clamoring for more.
Thanks for letting me ramble.
Copyright Ken Charles 2012