There are few things in the BDSM world that are better than a great scene. Whether it’s a long, winding Sadomasochism session, a freaky role play, or a good old rough romp, great scenes are one of the best parts about being kinky for many of us.
We should start by talking about what a scene is. A scene generally is a period of time which you (usually with a partner or partners) create a space dedicated to practicing the activities that make you kinky in the first place, with the desired outcome of reaching some form of climax or satisfaction. That last part is the key element in what separates it from, say, a kinky activity or a bit of light play.
It should be noted that there are a number of other names for these shared experiences, like a Session or a Playtime, and there are some great discussions about what they should be called. For the sake of this piece, though, I’m going with Scene. I like the word Scene because it gives a better idea of what the whole experience should be like. It should be like a performance, a work of art, and it should tell a story.
For the sake of clarity, I don’t mean it should start with “Once upon a time” and end “Happily ever after”. What I mean is it should flow from moment to moment, movement to movement, and take us on some kind of journey together. This is something I’ve implemented in my play, whether it’s an intimate moment between myself and my partner or a performance in front of a crowd of people on a stage.
So let’s talk about how to build and pull off a great scene.
Communicate Roles and Story Clearly
To tell a good story, you need a character, a motivation, and a journey. When we play out a scene, we need the same thing. All parties need to know what their roles are, what drives them in the scene, and where they are going. This is an essential part of a negotiation that takes it from a conversation about implements and pain tolerance and transforms it into a collaborative effort to build an experience together.
One thing I almost always ask when negotiating a scene is “What would you like to get from this scene?” As a bottom, this gives me a valuable understanding of how to best fulfill my partner’s needs. As a top, this also gives me an idea of the “Genre” of the scene. It tells me where the other person wants the scene to go, and that tells me a lot about how to get there as we craft the scene together.
Know how to begin
Any good story has a Beginning, and Middle, and an End. I think most of us know how to do the middle part of the scene pretty well, as that’s the part that people tend to focus on. The beginning is important too, though. Like a story, the beginning of a scene should focus on establishing the roles, the tone, the theme, and the direction. Once you have established with your partner(s) what your story is, work with them to get that story going in a way that lets you both (or all) really get into it.
One thing I like to do when topping with a new partner is to begin a scene with a lot of touch and quiet eye contact. I make slow and deliberate movements. I feel the parts of their body that might be involved in the scene or quietly talk about what is about to occur. What happens in this time all depends on what the coming scene will be. However, it always contains a few minutes of connection and focus to establish the rapport and what I’ll call the “Dialogue” of the scene (after all, isn’t most of what we do just a form of communication?). During this time,
I am setting the scene up, giving us both a chance to get into the right headspace to get into it.
Buy into the drama of your scene
Imagine watching a horror movie where all the actors seemed like they were too busy trying to be cool or to seem above it all to buy into the fact that some monster or alien or masked killer is coming after them. What gives us the chills and makes us scream is their ability to buy into the fear and uncertainty their character is meant to convey. You want to do the same thing when you are getting into your scene. Whatever your role is- a super strict Dominant, or a wanton masochist, or a petulant brat-let yourself get into it. Let yourself buy into your role.
This can be especially hard when you are playing in a public space. You might feel a little silly barking like a puppy in front of people, or calling someone a “Boot slut” and scowling. That’s totally normal for many people who are new. One piece of advice that I got during Drama class has stuck with me in my BDSM journey; “Play your scene TO the audience, but play it FOR your partner.” It can be fun to get on-lookers into it, but in the end remember that you are here for the other person(s), and let that drive you to really express yourself.
Don’t take yourself too seriously though
We see actors struggle with this all the time. When they can’t laugh off a flubbed line, or take a minute to be themselves, they get so far into character that they can’t seem to break it. They often become a burden to those around them, going on abusive rants like Christian Bale in Terminator, or terrorizing castmates like Jared Leto in Suicide Squad.
We should recognize this in our own scenes, too. What we do is very real, but it’s also not at the same time. In reality, I’m not really a pillaging Viking, I don’t fit the clinical definition of a “Sexual Sadist,” and just because someone calls me Daddy doesn’t mean I am their parent. In many ways, what we do subverts reality by giving us the space to express aspects of ourselves that need a place to live and breathe. Many of us take it very seriously to varying levels, of course, but allowing yourself space to not take things too seriously is important. Stay grounded. Laugh when you need to. Preserve the magic, but respect the reality.
Few things in a story are better than payoffs, and a good payoff is built around a healthy and reasonable dose of foreshadowing. Whether it’s laying out all the toys for the scene before you even start, or it’s giving the crop a good smack against a nearby surface to send chills, or making a comment about their feet moving around too much several minutes before doing a little consensual bondage mid-scene, use foreshadowing to build the tension a little and make those payoffs even better.
For example, one thing I have enjoyed doing is teasing out a certain toy. I’ll bring it out with a partner as we negotiate and mention how much I love it (it’s a 12 inch piece of high-temp pressure hose), and tell them it’s name (“Shia LeBouf” because I feel that no one else really appreciates it like I do, but it always puts in good work). Throughout the scene, without using it, I mention how much I love Shia. Every time I go to find another toy, I will hold it up or talk about it. Or maybe I’ll smack it against my hand and talk about how it feels.It builds the tension, and makes them wonder when Shia will make an appearance. Then, when I feel like it, I’ll bring that toy in and reward their patience. This gives the scene not only a sense of tension, but also intention, which drives it towards a payoff that can really give the scene a lot of energy.
Give your scene some twists and turns
Have you ever listened to a song that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, with no buildup or hooks, nothing to keep you going, so you tune out after like 40 seconds? A scene can end up like this if you don’t know how to maintain the drama. Now, I don’t mean Drama like the social kind. I mean having tension, movement, twists, and breaks. As you negotiate and play, give your scene a rhythm. Then let that rhythm move and flow. Give it build ups and let downs. This may seem like it applies mostly to tops, but bottoms can also play a role as well.
This doesn’t have to be a complicated, Shyamalan-level twist. It can be as simple as knowing when to take it slower or when to build intensity. This is as much about playing with the mind as it is about playing with the body. One favorite of mine is when a partner and I have decided and negotiated to push the scene until they are nearing their threshold for pain. When it’s clear to both of us that we may need to stop soon, I will ask them for “Just one more strike, okay?”, giving them a chance to get up their nerve. Then I will line up my shot, making them count down from 3 to 1 so “I know when to go” (insert ironic tone for effect). When they get to the last number, instead of striking them, I’ll strike my own hand or a nearby surface causing a loud noise. This often leads to a lot of cursing and name-calling, but it can be a very effective twist on an intense moment.
Don’t be afraid to improvise
I want to be very clear with this one; I do not recommend or condone improvising in a way that violates negotiation or consent of the other party (or parties).
There are ways, though, that you can improvise while maintaining respect for the boundaries and expectations of your partner. This is a lot like stage improv. When you perform any kind of improvisation on stage, there is a concept called “Yes, and…”, meaning you support and affirm your partner, and then add something of your own to carry on the scene. You also have an established setting and “rules” you follow. You and your partner work together within those boundaries to keep a scene moving.
Kink is the same way. You can work together to improvise through a BDSM scene too. This comes up a lot in rope, actually, as many ties are difficult to execute, or hard on the bottom. If you become too committed to a specific rig or harness, it can end up making a scene much more frustrating, which makes the whole experience worse as a result..
Instead of getting stuck, or frustrated, allow yourself a break from the private commitment you’ve made to yourself in a scene and instead focus on working with your partner to improvise a way to keep the scene going. If you need to redirect or change pace within the boundaries of your negotiated scene, you should give yourself the space to do so. Again, I want to reiterate that this is not permission to change consent mid-scene, nor am I recommending violating your negotiated agreement. This is about the conversation between the Top(s) and bottom(s) taking on the cooperative “Yes, and…” nature of improvisation, trying to walk organically through a scene together.
Know how to end
Much like Beginnings, people often struggle with endings. They either treat it like a workout and just do a little cooldown, jumping right into aftercare, or perhaps just ending it outright without much notice. This can be jarring and unnerving (Imagine if Star Wars just ended with the explosion of the Death Star. Boom, explosion, and roll credits).
Plan the end of your scene before it comes. This is, again, one mostly for the tops. Know when you are hitting the Third Act, where the climax should go, and how you should wind down from that. An important part of this is to know when enough is enough.
A common problem with scene endings I come across is people who keep wanting to push for more when more is untenable. A lot of times, a scene will need to end before we are prepared for it, which can be disturbing and/or unsatisfying. With this being said, it’s important to see the end coming before it’s there, and act accordingly with the everyone’s best interest in mind. I like to include a conversation in the scene at some point where I will my partner(s) to self-assess where they are at, or give them a clear indicator that I am going to be wrapping up. This may be on the nose for some, but for me it’s a simple way to signify the shift in tone that comes with ending a scene.
For many, having great scenes won’t just happen without putting in a little bit of work. Anyone can have amazing playtimes if they are willing to put in the practice, though. Remember that, ultimately, a good scene is about everyone having a wonderful time, feeling satisfied, and wanting to do it again because it was that awesome. Pain, humiliation, service, and control are all ways of expressing ourselves and communicating with each other. Like any language, you can learn how to speak it in a way that excites people. Keep that in mind as you work on your scenes and you’ll do great.
By: Baron Von Aaron
Aaron is a kinkster, writer, Viking, and Curling fan with over a decade worth of experience. He enjoys sharing the knowledge and insights he has gained over his own journey. Follow him on Twitter @BaronKink