Too nice? Not nice enough?

In writing my naughty stories, I’ve come across an odd paradox:

I write naughty stories of women spanking and getting spanked, but spanking stories now seem normal.

Even…dare I say it..almost vanilla?

When I wrote Editorial Board, I originally made editor Rachel a good deal sterner. My own editor objected and wanted Rachel to show more compassion and understanding. More like Eunji, the tutor-spanker from Desire in Any Language. I followed her advice, and Editorial Board did well.

However, I found myself chafing at the restrictions. Desire was a joy to write, and Eunji is one of my favorite disciplinarian characters…but I wondered whether my stories had already become typecast. What if I wanted to write something naughtier, non-consensual, or even a little bit nasty? After all, even Desire includes one of the scariest scenes I’ve ever written. Part of my excitement in writing Becoming Clissine was the chance to write pure non-consensual spanking. (It’s not just me, right? Non-consensual spanking is a fantasy for many, isn’t it?)

Well, guess what. Karielle was having none of that. Her love and nurturing of Clissa, as misguided as it was, made me cry over and over again. One of my beta readers even suggested that I had diluted my message by making Karielle “too nice.”

Hm.

Part of writing books is to create a clearly identifiable brand. If I pick up Author A’s book, for example, I expect to read a young adult fantasy that includes a happy ending. If I pick up Author B’s book, I expect to read adult science fiction with military and political themes. If I pick up an Ana book, what do people expect? F/F, spanking…and niceness?

Hm, indeed.

Is that a good or bad thing?

What if I wrote a story in which the characters were not nice?

What if I wrote a story in which spankings were not given with consent?

Would I ruin the Anastasia Vitsky brand?

One of my works-in-progress is a story in which the protagonist is unrelentingly nice. She’s a happy-go-lucky kindergarten teacher who views everyone, child and adult, as someone in need of a hug and a smiley apple sticker. Yet what she goes through is not at all nice, and her partner is not nice. Going through bad events does tend to make us less nice, doesn’t it?

But if I have learned one thing over the past few years, it’s that sometimes people read books because they want fantasy. Fiction to take them away from the harshness of real life.

So I wonder. Do you want your stories to be nice? Why or why not?

 

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21 thoughts on “Too nice? Not nice enough?

  1. misstherestofme says:

    You’ve hit on something here; I find it very difficult to write non-consent scenes, unless there is a subtext to them. The only way the words really flow is if I write about a mutual adoration. That need for consent may change, but for now I have to have that context set.

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Hello and welcome! Thank you for kicking off the discussion. There’s no reason for you to write non-con if you don’t enjoy it, especially as Pao says below. But do you feel a need to make your characters nice?

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  2. sassytwatter says:

    Hmmm….to me those needs to be balance in the story. And while info like fantasy and non consent I have to buy into the story and like the characters. And it needs to come out of a place of trust and not heavy handiness. I’m not sure I would say spanking has gone main stream especially for discipline more the slap & tickle variety. I do like the idea of non consent sometimes just makes the story better as long again as their is that foundation on trust and needs being met.

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I’m sure your giant could use a bit more heavy handedness to deal with you! 🙂

      And I don’t mean mainstream literally, more that it’s become normal to me after talking, reading, and writing about it so much.

      I love non-con because of its power struggle/power play. But how to make that work in a story without turning off the readers…

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  3. Michael says:

    Wow, Ana, you do get a person thinking first thing in the morning which is great. One of the reasons I enjoy visiting your site is I never know what I will find. It may be fiction or real life, it may be funny or sad, It could be practical and useful advice or flights of fancy and fantasy.
    As for your books as a reader I am torn because on the one hand I want to that if I am going to make an investment of time and emotion reading a book I want to know it is something I will like and enjoy. On the other hand I like to experience new things and expand my literary horizons. Get out of my comfort zone. It’s nice to know that picking up an Ana Vitsky book will provide certain things like eroticism and emotion, but there is also a thrill in being surprised by finding new ground being tilled by a familiar author, a friend, taking you to new places.

    I like when a story has an edge and a character is not entirely nice. Nothing is as boring and formulaic as two-dimensional characters with no depth and nuance. It is when characters show flaws and a duality of good and bad that they come to life and are realistic. But unlike in real life where many bad people benefit from bad behavior in fiction I get great satisfaction when the not so nice characters get their comeuppance.

    So in my long-winded way, Ana, I am saying go for it and write some stories with nastier characters. That is the beauty of fiction, you can create anything and all things. You take us to new places and introduce new characters which take us to places never before imagined. Variety is the spice of life and to have a trusted friend lead her readers into new realms is what we want. Go for it. 🙂

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Hehe, unpredictable is the watchword around here. I get bored otherwise. 🙂 I’m glad someone else enjoys the randomness.

      As a reader myself, I hate when an author deviates too much from what I expect. I don’t want to pick up Tamora Pierce, for example, and read patriarchal books about women enslaved and kept in their place. At the same time, I respect people who stretch their boundaries. That’s one of my favorite things about Yo-Yo Ma as a musician and artist. He’s always trying something new.

      On the other hand, as a writer I tend to get bored with the same formula. I like exploring new ground with each story. But does stretching out too much weaken the writing? Is it better to do my tiny bit well, rather than trying to do everything?

      Perhaps I will write that nasty character…and name him Michael. 😀

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  4. pao says:

    Hmm, I think yes, if I picked up an Ana book, I’d expect F/F and not niceness exactly, but a deep emotional relationship between characters. I think I like what authors like writing best. Nice books are good, because, like you said it’s good for escaping reality 🙂 Like watching a comedy. That said, it does not mean that you can’t write a story that’s not your ‘brand’. I think it’s great if you branch out. You just might have more of a certain type under your belt, I suppose. I don’t think it ruins your brand.

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      You’re right. When I read something the author obviously loved to write, it shows. It’s fun to watch someone who is enjoying his or her passion.

      One of my favorite authors writes formula, and some of her books are nearly interchangeable. Yet I love them and re-read them often. Maybe it’s because different books serve different purposes.

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  5. lacrimsonfemme says:

    I have several authors that aren’t stuck to just one genre. There are ones who do light and dark. Who do vanilla to heavier kink. Who do PNR then contemporary then BDSM and then sci fi!

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      That’s true. Some authors do it all under one name, while others branch out into other pen names to separate their brands. I wonder how well each method works.

      And hello, BA! Long time no see.

      Like

  6. Natasha Knight says:

    I think the fact that readers want the fantasy is key. There are a lot of things I write that are pure fantasy and sometimes harsh (in the case of punishment) but it’s fantasy and it’s what many of us would not want in our real lives but do want in the reading. I think you just have to write what feels right for you.

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Oh yes, sometimes the fun of reading is knowing we would hate it in real life. And while you write some harsh things, your characters ultimately get a great deal of satisfaction out of them. 🙂

      Like

  7. SH says:

    I read a lot, that may be an understatement, hmmmm anyway, I have a list of favorite authors and I read everything they write, regardless of what the story is about. Some stories are light and some are not but I don’t care, variety is the spice of life as they say. They are my favorite authors because I love the way they write, there are always characters with great back story, plots with a lot of detail that I can sink my teeth into, and usually have some length to them regardless of the storyline.

    Write what makes you happy and we will follow 🙂

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  8. catrouble says:

    When I read an Anastasia Vitsky story, I am expecting to become very involved with the characters and their emotions to the point where I can forget they are not real. Oh and with some spanking somewhere along the way. 😉 Other than that, I really don’t have a lot of expectations.

    If you are concerned about damaging the AV brand with a ‘meaner’ cast of characters, you might want to consider creating another brand. But hey…when it comes to the mechanics of writing, I don’t know squat! I just enjoy reading your books. 😀

    Hugs and Blessings…
    Cat

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  9. Roz says:

    Hey Ana, wow, that is great question! I agree with the others, when I read an Anastasia Vitsky story I also expect to become involved with the characters and their emotions and also that they share a deep bond.

    There definitely is something about non-consensual spanking. For me, it has to be based on a strong foundation of trust as well or perhaps more consensual/non-consensual and the key for me ultimately is the connection between the characters.

    Hugs,
    Roz

    Like

  10. Julie says:

    I don’t need the CHARACTERS to be nice – I even like Natalie as a character! 🙂 – but to enjoy a spanking story I do need that element of….well, not niceness exactly but at least fairness (or an attempt to be fair). But as others have said, beyond f/f and wonderful writing, the Ana brand is really about the strong emotional connections between the primary spanker and the one getting spanked. That’s difficult to achieve in a purely non-consensual, harsh plot. Clissine being a possible exception due to the nature of the story.

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  11. angel says:

    As I am healing I have taken to reading a lot and I truly love to read things that have some action in them Where they are not always nice it is great to read the struggles and I love when a heroin swoops in and saves the day Or where she puts her foot down and says No more miss nice guy Sometimes the best thing is not very sweet and nice just my thoughts

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  12. Annapurna says:

    My response, like the paradox you have experienced, may seem a little contradictory as well.

    “However, I found myself chafing at the restrictions.”

    “What if I wanted to write something naughtier, non-consensual, or even a little bit nasty?”

    I encourage you to write the stories inside you, and then find a way to publish them, using another pseudonym if necessary. Remember that Fyodor Dostoevsky never wrote to please anyone; of course, he died poor.

    Storyboard your scene, write it, create a one-hundred-word lead-in, and then give it to your editor. Before submitting the package, try to butter him/her up. If rejected, write the story anyway, and then another and another, but ask yourself what prompts you to do so? What do you hope to gain, for yourself and your readers? The introspection may help deepen your work, and you’ll come to know yourself better.

    “It’s not just me, right? Non-consensual spanking is a fantasy for many, isn’t it?”

    Spanking stories aren’t mainstream literature nor are they vanilla tales. To those in the Scene, it may appear that way. Only about ten percent of the U.S. population is algolagnist in orientation. Another ten to twenty percent may have some, limited interest, and a sizeable portion only a passing curiosity.

    Non-consensual spanking fantasies may not be that common, and even if they are, those who have them may not buy such stories, especially if there’s no happy ending. Fear of social disapproval and a need for acceptance may influence buying decisions, for who wants to admit he or she is a closet-case sadist or a self-defeating masochist?

    Remember, too, nice doesn’t mean wimpy. I’m sure we can all admit to or known someone who has gone over the top at least once. So your nice disciplinarian, when pushed beyond her limits, could resort to blindfolding, gaging, and tying her partner up in an abandoned building before spanking the living daylights out of her, almost. Go much beyond that and you’ll be crossing into psycho-terror.

    “If I pick up an Ana book, what do people expect? F/F, spanking…and niceness?”

    “Is that a good or bad thing?”

    Neither.

    It sounds like you want more edge, so start introducing it gradually.

    For example, your characters are nice, like your kindergarten teacher, but there’s just too much syrup galore. The submissive partner becomes bored and wants more excitement, so she does something stupid: she responds to a spanking ad without the proper safeguards. The scene goes very badly: she is severely spanked and maybe even raped by her female attacker. Did the submissive learn her lesson? No. The scene was scary, but wildly exhilarating, so she does it again. This time she’s kidnapped. After she goes missing for a week, the dominate partner looks for her after receiving little help from the police. Now that’s a love story with a knife’s edge!

    “Would I ruin the Anastasia Vitsky brand?”

    You may not ruin it, but some readers will complain while others may not. If you make your stories more sensational, you may even pick up additional readers. It would be a good idea, though, to let people know that you’re changing your direction for creative reasons.

    “Going through bad events does tend to make us less nice, doesn’t it?”

    It all depends on what you mean by “nice.” I’ve known three women who were raped, one of whom was spanked beforehand with a belt. All three were scarred for life, but none turned against others. Traumatic events, like the ones you intend to write about, will have a deleterious impact upon your protagonists; otherwise, the experience wouldn’t be real.

    “Do you want your stories to be nice? Why or why not?”

    I prefer authenticity and artisanship to pleasantries or wickedness. Moreover, I have a low tolerance for violence or mistreatment of women. Consensual adult spanking that’s safe, sane and life affirming is what I find attractive—short of leaving marks of course. Such play can be plenty challenging enough.

    Remember, it’s not the spanking that matters, but the tension you create in your story that will have your readers turning pages and returning for more.

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