By the time they’d finished washing down pieces of Marion’s birthday cake with good Indonesian coffee, Paul was feeling surprisingly happy and relaxed. He’d hoped that his wife and mistress would want to do something kinky to him on her special day, and he’d been more than a little disappointed when she’d told him to get ready to host a quiet dinner with Brian and Eleanor, two long-time friends of hers that he knew only slightly. They were a retired military couple, a good two decades older than he and Marion, and he privately considered them stuffy and tiresome. Eleanor seemed to have something on her mind tonight, and was joining only half-heartedly in the conversation, but Brian was as animated and talkative as Paul had ever seen him. A quiet dinner in decent company wasn’t really so bad, and maybe Marion would still sink her claws into him after their guests had left.
The thought made him glance in his wife’s direction, but her chair was empty. She must have slipped off to the bathroom, or out to the patio for a quick smoke, while he’d been caught up in Brian’s story about visiting Hong Kong as a young man.
“I think it’s time,” Marion said from somewhere behind him, “for us to move on with our evening.”
Paul had no idea what she meant, but Brian and Eleanor both rose immediately to their feet. Eleanor gave him an enigmatic smile.
“You stand up too, Paul,” Brian said, his tone suddenly that of a man used to giving orders. The note of authority was so compelling that Paul shot up from the table immediately. Brian grabbed his wrists, pulling them together behind his back, and Eleanor reached into the purse she’d slung casually over the back of her chair and withdrew a pair of wicked-looking nipple clamps.
“What’s going on here?” Paul asked nervously, too taken aback to struggle or protest in stronger terms. “Are you two both… I mean, are you going to…”
Marion grabbed his hair, from behind, in a way that he recognised. “Shut the fuck up,” she said directly into his ear, in the crisp, precise voice that he’d learned to associate with her most sadistic moods. “All you need to know about this situation is that you are going to be Brian and Eleanor’s slave, as well as mine, for the rest of the night. Do anything they say, and submit to anything they do to you.”
Eleanor’s smile widened, and she began to slowly unbutton his shirt.
Marion’s slave and husband Paul was so endearingly predictable. Before her birthday he’d been excited as a puppy, obviously hoping for a kinky adventure, and he’d been crestfallen when she’d ordered him to prepare to host a dinner with her old friends Brian and Eleanor. Paul apparently thought of them as a couple of white-haired bores, and so far she’d been careful not to do anything to dispel that impression. Now, however, it was almost time for Paul to discover that there was more to Brian and Eleanor than met the eye. Eleanor was doing a very bad job of containing her impatience, barely talking and glancing hungrily in Paul’s direction every few minutes, but Brian seemed to be revelling in the business of putting Paul at ease. As they finished their coffee, Brian had Paul caught up in some story about the Far East, and Marion decided it was time to make her move. When Paul wasn’t looking, she slipped out of her chair and stepped behind him.
“I think it’s time,” she declared, “for us to move on with our evening.”
At that prearranged signal, Brian and Eleanor rose smoothly to their feet, and Eleanor gave Paul a weird smile. Marion regretted not being able to see Paul’s face, which was probably a mask of confusion.
“You stand up too, Paul,” Brian said crisply, in the commanding voice that he’d once told her dated back to his career as a military police officer. Nowadays that voice was part of what made him a truly intimidating dominant, and Marion wasn’t surprised when Paul instantly obeyed. Heat rose between her legs as Brian pulled Paul’s hands behind his back, just like they’d planned, and Eleanor eagerly fished her favourite nipple clamps out of the purse she’d strategically hung on the back of her chair.
“What’s going on here?” Paul blurted. “Are you two both… I mean, are you going to…” Her boy was floundering, and Marion decided to step in. She moved closer and grabbed his hair in a way that she knew would get his attention.
“Shut the fuck up,” she said into his ear with what she thought was about the right amount of menace. “All you need to know about this situation is that you are going to be Brian and Eleanor’s slave, as well as mine, for the rest of the night. Do anything they say, and submit to anything they do to you.”
That clearly worked for Eleanor. Her smile widened, and she began to slowly unbutton Paul’s shirt.
Which version of this brief vignette did you like better? They describe the same action, convey about the same information, and contain an equal number of words (424 in each case). However, the first is written from the viewpoint of Paul the male submissive, and the second from that of Marion the female dominant. I didn’t recruit Paul and Marion as first-person narrators, but I did give the reader access to Paul’s thoughts, perceptions and knowledge in the first version and to Marion’s in the second.
Before embarking on this exercise, I assumed that Paul’s viewpoint would turn out to be the more interesting and compelling. Perhaps I was a little biased in that judgement by my own identity as a male submissive, but I also had in mind the advantages of making the protagonist of any story somewhat vulnerable and denying him or her the knowledge of certain crucial facts. Submissives don’t normally encounter real danger to life and limb, but they do have adventures that test their resolve and endurance, and they often don’t know what their dominants have planned for them on any given day. In the first version of the vignette, the reader can vicariously share in Paul’s confusion and consternation when Brian and Eleanor move in on him, and easily imagine his reaction – perhaps a mixture of relief and trepidation? – when Marion reveals her plans for the evening. Submissives are underdogs and victims of circumstance, and those qualities make for an exciting main character. There’s a reason Lord of the Rings concentrates on Frodo’s perspective, rather than Sauron’s.
What I didn’t fully appreciate when I started, though, was that the dominant’s perspective could be equally fun in a somewhat different way. There’s no rule that says the reader needs immediate access to all the thoughts of a character whose viewpoint is being considered, so Marion’s plans for Paul and her knowledge of Brian and Eleanor’s dominant side can emerge gradually as the action develops. Instead of vicariously sharing Paul’s uncertainty, the reader gets to share her anticipation, while possibly feeling some sympathy for Paul as it becomes increasingly clear that the other three characters are preparing to make him their plaything. I’m tempted to conclude that hot kinky action can be fun from any viewpoint, and also that Lord of the Rings from Sauron’s perspective might actually have been a pretty interesting book.
Postscript: After reading my first draft of this post, My Lady ordered me to link to the following pieces by Xan West, one of her favourite authors, that discuss the dominant’s perspective in both reality and fiction: Kinky erotica from the top’s point of view and I’m Not Just Doing It for You. They’re both pretty good, but I’d particularly recommend the first one, which makes the excellent point that dominants can be more interesting as characters when they have some vulnerabilities of their own.