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@aphyr
Last active Jul 21, 2019
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Structure of a Scene

This is an outline for a 50-minute lecture & demonstration on the structure and dynamics of BDSM scenes. Our goal is to build on introductory and technique-centered classes (e.g. "Good Touch Games", "Flogging 101/201") and show how to build a successful scene using those techniques.

Introduction

  • I'm Kyle Kingsbury

    • With Titans of the Midwest
    • Been in leather since ~2014
    • I'm a switch
  • I love good scenes!

    • This thing we do is magic
      • Fun! Sexy! Transformative!
      • Emotional release
      • Physical high
      • Most importantly: good scenes are about connection
        • Vulnerability, trust, intimacy
    • I want to show people one way to build a scene:
      • Negotiation
      • Initiation
      • Warm-up
      • Deepening
      • Climax
      • Cooldown
      • Aftercare
    • We'll be touching on...
      • The importance of headspace
        • Subspace as Trance
      • Narrowing focus
      • Gradually raising intensity
      • Layering sensation
      • Shifting sensation
      • Creating instability
      • Pattern vs surprise
      • Building trust
      • Check-ins
        • Extending consent
  • Scenes are like music, dance, or storytelling

    • Whether improvisational or tightly scripted
      • They have a narrative, a structure
    • The instruments and characters may change
      • But listen to enough music, and you'll notice patterns
        • In fiction
          • Poetic meter
          • Sentences, paragraphs, chapters
          • Setting as character
            • Externalizing inner dynamics
          • Inhabiting character
          • Narrative structure
            • Interweaving plotlines
            • Lots of types of plots!
        • Dance
          • Both performance and relationship
            • Falls apart if you can't stay in sync
          • Leader and follower
          • Formal negotiation
          • Initiation
          • Ongoing negotiation
            • Mutual cueing
            • "Would you like to try a dip?"
          • This Doesn't Work Without Trust
        • Music
          • Instruments & timbre
          • Time signature
          • Call and response
          • Solos
          • Arpeggiation
          • Voices
          • Accidentals
          • Tempo & volume shifts
          • Key & signature changes
  • The usual disclaimer

    • This is just my perspective
    • We have different goals, and different paths
    • I'm gonna show you one way which works for me
  • This class is about synthesis

    • We won't cover:
      • Negotiation
      • Safety
      • How to use your tools
    • If you like what you see here, make sure you have the basics down before going too deep
      • Check out other Titans classes
  • I'll be presenting a Nice Clean Model of a scene

    • But in reality, these elements blend into each other
    • We may sink into and come out of a scene many times

Negotiation

  • A lot of scenes start with a formal negotiation
    • Establish limits, yes, but more importantly
    • Figure out what you both WANT
    • And how to get there
  • Negotiation can be days of text exchanges and detailed questionaires
    • Or a significant look in a backroom
  • With the purpose and boundaries of the scene established, we can begin playing

Initiation

  • A scene usually involves formalized roles
    • Transitioning to those roles involves a liminal space
    • Use ritual & symbolism to open the scene
  • This can be formally delineated...
    • Come in, undress, fold clothes, kneel on all fours, await instructions
  • Or subtle, blending into the scene itself
    • Change in voice and demeanor
    • Eye contact
    • Use of titles
    • Claiming space
    • Asserting control
  • Physical preparation
    • Laying out tools
    • Taking off (and putting on) clothes
    • Restraints
    • Blindfolds
    • Gags
    • etc
  • Once they're ready, it's time to start action

Warm-up

  • Sure, you negotiated that the top can beat you heavily
    • But for most bottoms, if you just haul off and hit them, it's an instant deal-breaker
  • We need physical and psychological preparation to accept our maximum level of intensity
    • Endorphins
      • Finding peer-reviewed literature on this is surprisingly hard, but folk understanding is...
      • Prolonged stimulation (e.g. pain) dumps endogenous opioids, adrenaline, etc. into your system
      • Natural high
      • Alters sensation, cognition
      • Feels fucking GREAT
      • Allows us to transmute the experience of pain into... something else
    • Skin
      • The skin responds to impact
      • Heat
      • Altered experience of pain
      • Magic, sparkly response to light touch
    • Subspace
      • Hard to explain
        • Trust, connection, acceptance of Top's direction
        • Timelessness, dissolution of boundaries
        • Trance state
        • Transcendence
        • For many subs, subspace is the whole point
      • Subspace is tricky and delicate
        • Every sub is different--and it depends on the Dom too
        • Have to find the keys that unlock that space for them
          • They may tell you what works for them
    • These factors take TIME to build
      • Fade when not maintained
    • Remember: journey, not destination
      • You can't jump right to the climax of a film
        • It doesn't mean much without the buildup!
  • So, we start light, introducing gentle sensation, and proceed to...

Deepening

  • Sensation that's so light as to be unchallenging is boring
    • Sensation that's too intense will knock the bottom out of subspace and end (or at least disrupt) the scene
    • Our limits shift as we sink into headspace
    • So, we want to play near, but not beyond, the envelope of what the bottom can take, and has agreed to give us.
    • As the envelope expands, we play harder
      • Gradually intensify to avoid blowing past limits
  • We use different techniques to deepen the scene
    • Volume
      • Hit harder
      • Stroke lighter
    • Tempo
      • Paddle faster
      • Lick slower
    • Rhythm
      • Create a pattern the bottom can anticipate
      • Following-along builds the trance-like aspect of subspace
    • Focus
      • A single implement allows the bottom to focus their attention on it
      • Eliminate senses via blindfolds, headphones, hoods
      • Limit actions the bottom can take to allow them to sink into subspace
        • Restraints limit movement
        • Gags limit communication
    • Layering: combining different kinds of stimulation
      • Glove over mouth PLUS tugging on nips
      • Can act in harmony, or confuse the bottom--both are fun
      • Use tools!
      • Use furniture!
      • Use your whole body!
      • Use your brain!
    • Shifting sensation
      • Bottoms can only take so much of any particular stimulus
        • But often, you can try another kind of stimulation and find a second wind
      • Sting to thud
      • Back to quads
      • Biting to punching
    • Pattern vs surprise
      • Total chaos is generally confusing and stressful for bottoms
      • An unchanging pattern is boring
      • Establish a pattern, then throw in variations and surprises
        • Harder strokes
        • Extra pauses
        • New targets
      • Vary volume, tempo, rhythm, etc
        • Quickly for punctuation
        • Slowly to build & ebb
    • Building trust
      • Subspace requires trust in intent and technique
        • If the bottom's worried about their safety, they can't relax
          • A punch in the wrong place can shatter subspace for minutes
        • Know your tools, yes, but also, everyone makes mistakes
          • So start small, where mistakes matter less
            • Gain confidence in your technique before going super aggressive
      • Fundamentally, the bottom extends trust for each moment
        • Top validates that trust by giving the bottom what they can handle
          • RESPECT LIMITS & CUES
        • When trust is validated, bottoms trust more, and Tops can give more
          • A wonderful cycle
  • Consent is not a one-time agreement, but a continual negotiation
    • Implicit communication: cueing
      • Top reads the bottom's reactions closely
      • Bottom has to provide those cues to the Top
        • Moans, whimpers, body language, screams, shaking, skin changes, etc
        • We talk about Tops providing directions to bottoms
        • It's actually a feedback loop; a mutualism
    • Explicit communication: check-ins
      • Top pauses the action to check in with the bottom
        • Looking and listening for implicit cues
        • Assessing safety
        • Asking questions
      • Check-ins are an opportunity not just to assess state, but to build connection
        • Gentle stimulation
        • Reassurance, praise, sympathy
        • Seducing consent for more intense play
      • Check-ins delineate phases of the scene
        • Bottoms get exhausted and need breaks
        • Provides structure, like movements in classical music
    • Safewords
      • A backup for when more subtle communication fails
      • Reading people, especially in D/s, can be HARD
        • Are those good tears?
        • Is this a panic attack?
      • Unambiguous signals are our final safety measures
      • Bottoms may not safeword even when they need to
        • Practice
  • Our deepening builds towards a moment of...

Climax

  • A moment of peak intensity, a high point of the scene
    • Meaningless without buildup
  • Can take different forms
    • Raised intensity
      • A sequence of ten final strokes, each harder, counted down
    • Endurance
      • Prolonged stimulation without letting up, wearing the bottom out
    • Intense, momentary event
      • Ripping off clothespins
      • Piercing, branding
      • Being pissed on
    • Psychological break
      • Collaring
      • "You're enough"
  • Using the trust and empathy you've built, the subspace, the endorphins, to create an intense moment of connection
    • The experience, in itself, can be enough without having to be "for" anything
    • Creating a bond between Top and bottom
    • Discovering strength
    • Processing trauma
    • Coming to grips with negative feelings towards self
    • Emotional catharsis--coming to terms with a breakup, a death
    • Accepting love
    • Creating a liminal space for a ritual, like a collar
  • You can sometimes script a climax, like a branding or a mindfuck scene
    • Sometimes it comes by surprise
    • Mostly, it's something I see coming a little in advance, and adapt as needed
  • Sometimes, you realize unexpectedly that the bottom is Just Plain Done
    • But... I didn't give them that moment!
    • Try a deep check
    • Get extra close
    • "You're gonna take one more for me, with the wood paddle this time."
    • "You tell me when you're ready."
    • Creating a story together, and giving time to recharge
  • After that climactic moment, we need to...

Cooldown

  • This can be gradual, backing off to lighter play we started with
    • Echo earlier parts of the scene
    • Let the bottom enjoy their headspace--it'll last a few minutes
  • Can shift modalities
    • Come in to gently stroke their skin, instead of hitting them
  • Or it can be quickly untying, ungagging, getting them to the couch
  • Bottoms are extra vulnerable during this time
    • Physically and psychologically
    • May be uncoordinated, nonverbal, unresponsive
    • Offer reassurance and support
  • Our goal is to ease the bottom into aftercare

Aftercare

  • The bottom has GONE PLACES and SEEN THINGS
    • They may be floating and happy
    • Or sobbing and scared
  • As a Top, our job is to
    1. Let them FEEL whatever this is
    2. Guide them gently back into normal life
  • Giving time to feel
    • Physically, endorphins, adrenaline, etc. will take time to clear the brain
    • Skin takes time to heal
    • Feelings need time to be felt
  • Subspace can feel REALLY good! The bottom probably wants to be there.
    • Don't drag them up before they're ready!
    • Don't ask them to speak, move, make decisions
    • Instead, offer cuddling, slow strokes, low, reassuring talk
    • Continue to offer presence and direction
    • Enjoy this time! It's magic
    • YMMV: Some bottoms just need to be left alone
      • See your local bottom for details
  • Returning to normalcy
    • The bottom has extended us more and more control
      • It's our job as Tops to gradually return that to the bottom
    • Bottoms will generally work their own way out of subspace
      • You can coax this along in emergencies
    • When they're ready, you might offer water, treats
      • They may be dehydrated and exhausted
    • Don't send them off before they're ready
      • Trips, falls
      • Car accidents
      • Feelings of emotional vulnerability from sudden separation
  • Timing varies
    • For a bar scene, this might be a few minutes of hugging and talking.
    • Usual scenes, for me, involve 30-60 minutes of aftercare.

Scene

  • At this point in the class boy cage and I are going to demonstrate what this kind of scene can look like.
    • cage and I have played before and know each other fairly well
    • We've planned this scene ahead, but we'll be modeling negotiation as if we didn't know exactly what was going to happen.
    • Watch for the phases we talked about:
      • Negotiation
      • Initiation
      • Warm-up
      • Deepening
      • Climax
      • Cooldown
      • Aftercare
    • And throughout the scene, think about different ways we employ:
      • Volume
      • Tempo
      • Rhythm
      • Focus
      • Layering
      • Shifting sensation
      • Pattern vs surprise
      • Building trust
      • Cueing, check-ins, and safewords

Rough Sketch of Scene

  • Gear on hand

    • Gloves
    • Bandana
    • Floggers (light, heavy)
    • Chair/stool/counter/bartop/wall (for support during flogging)
    • Cuffs?
  • Negotiation

    • What do you want to do boy?
      • "Well I was hoping you'd flog me..."
      • "I would love to--what else gets you going?"
    • Any injuries? Fainting, seizures...?
    • Medications, inhaler, epi-pen, etc?
    • Anything else I should know?
    • Yellow for slow, red for stop
  • Initiation

    • Hands behind your back
    • C'mere boy
    • Nips tugged, hands on neck, making out, gloves over mouth, punching, slapping, etc. :)
    • Bring boy to a low boil
    • "This is a scene unto itself--you can see cage is already drifting off a bit. Feeling good, boy?"
      • "Yes Sir..."
    • "But through this process, we're building connection, trust, and submission, which we can bring with us into the flogging."
    • "Shirt off, boy"
    • Move boy to chair/counter/whatever, have him get in position
  • Warm-up

    • Soft flogger over face
    • Blindfold
    • Back stroking
    • Full-tail thwacks
  • Deepening

    • ~2 rounds with the light flogger
    • Vary target, intensity, tempo, rhythm, whiff/slap/thud
    • Check ins, back stroking, light bites, good boy
    • Maybe shift to heavy flogger for 1 round?
    • Call out:
      • Change in floggers
      • Reddening skin
      • boy nodding off
      • Ragged body movements
  • Climax

    • "You're going to count down ten final strokes for me"
      • "But only the ones that count"
    • Whack, whack, whack
    • Good boy!
  • Cooldown

    • Back stroking
    • Pulling up from flogging position
    • Undoing cuffs
  • Aftercare

    • Big hugs
    • More stroking
    • Good boy

Ending

  • Okay, thank you very much everyone!
  • If we have time for questions, take a seat, cage can sit at my feet
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