An expert artist moves through three stages: technician, craftsman and finally master artist. Like them we begin by learning techniques, then practice those techniques to refine our craft, and one day we're doing it so well it has become an art.
Good scenes have good pacing, or timing, if you will. Like a symphony they have a variety of rhythms, moods, tones, and crescendos and diminuendos. I was recently asked to speak about pacing a scene and thought that you all might be interested in those thoughts as well.
Over and beyond the fact of "fetish" there are many facets to a scene, including speed, action, sensitivity, spontaneity, variety, rhythm, and environment. I can't really tell you how to pace a scene but I can write about the factors that contribute to good pacing. Technique, after all, isn't limited to simply the actions involved in a specific fetish. There are both physical and psychic (or psychological if you prefer) characteristics that both top and bottom need to attend to, if a scene is to become truly artful.
Each characteristic has its own importance and the "whole" of them becomes greater than their sum. While there is a possible ranking among them, to think of them in that context may have the adverse effect of ruining a scene. Room temperature, for an example, might be just as important as one's ability to read body language, even if adjusting the thermostat is an easier task to accomplish.
That said, it seems to me that the most expert players have developed their ability to "read" their partners and therefore interpret the progress of the scene in such a way as to improve it. Reading in this context combines an array of talents that includes the following:
Watching body movements, especially how one's bottom is breathing, tensing or responding. Is their chest heaving? Is she breathing deeply? Are his breaths slow or is he going to begin to hyperventilate? Can she breathe properly or is the gag too restrictive or is she forgetting to breathe?
Listen to their grunts and groans. It's not just grunts and groans either. What about sighs or vocal comments? Can we tell the difference between "No don't stop" and "No. Don't. Stop?" If we stop will they be relieved or disappointed? What I am dealing with here is sensitivity to our partner.
The dictionary helps here. Sensitive: "Capable of perceiving with a sense or senses; Susceptible to the attitudes, feelings, or circumstances of others; Readily alerted by the action of an agent; Registering very slight differences or changes." Notice that it has to do with perception, feelings, and very slight differences. To be successfully sensitive one must take care, be quiet, and act slowly, while continuing to accurately process the information.
Feel their bodies for heat and sweat, as well as to reinforce the sensation of the scene with a mixture of "sweet and sour." Among the important techniques is to use one's hands during a scene. Now that might be easily understood while spanking or fisting, but it is equally important in whipping and paddling. Caresses during an impact scene, for instance, go a long way to help the bottom continue in the scene as well as give important feedback to the top. They also afford the additional advantage of helping to improve the pace of a scene.
Maintain an inner silence or awareness that listens for intuitive clues. Some of this, in fact, is an extrasensory perception while some is also simply taking time to evaluate the external sensations we are receiving on a physical level. Too often we can become so involved in what we're doing that we fail to take the time necessary to ask ourselves "How are we doing?" or "How are they doing?"
Pace also has to do with timing. The best scenes have a natural tempo to them, generally beginning with slow and easy and progressing to quick, intense, and hard. This, of course, is not a steady climb upward but one of peaks and lulls, as in "crescendos and diminuendos." It is important to note that the diminutive parts of the scene are just as important as the intense ones. It is the variety that creates the successful play. It is the pause that underlines and reinforces the activity.
What I've written thus far seems to place all the responsibility on the top and that is not at all the case. It is quite necessary for the bottom to provide clear feedback. In fact, "toughening it out" can actually ruin a scene. If the bottom isn't sending signals, or even worse is sending false ones, the scene is destined for failure.
Actions play an important part as well. We can't forget the value of knowing good technique and using it. Likewise actions need to be varied, which is another way of looking at pacing. Therefore it's fundamental that actions need to be studied, practiced and learned.
Good pacing isn't just part of the scene. It is also found in good negotiations, good preparation of the scene's venue, and in the aftercare, which is just as much a part of the scene as the fetish play itself.
That thought leads us to consider the environment: temperature, humidity, sound (both helpful and distracting) and privacy or the lack thereof. Is there water and/or juice handy? A place to take a break in the scene, since breaks are a good way to get feedback and to diminish the action in preparation for increasing it later.
Lastly, we need to recognize the value of spontaneity. A good scene is part choreography and part spontaneous modification of the scene to fit the flow, pacing, and feedback of the scene. Be open to adjust your activity, your speed and intensity, as well as your "plans."
And in all of this, be sure to have fun.
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