So, you’ve got your whips, your chains, your leather, your latex, your very willing submissive … now what?

Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Equipment is important, but before you begin any kind of BDSM play scene you first need to two critically important things.

Consent, Consent, Consent

The first item of critical importance is to have unequivocal and clear consent to do everything you and your playmate are going to do together. If you haven’t played before, it’s even more essential to both be 100% in agreement. If there’s any doubt or confusion, work it out until things are crystal clear. If putting things in writing makes it easier, do it. I personally know of many dominants who have exhaustive forms for their playmates to fill out before they do anything.

If things are still hazy, don’t play. There is absolutely nothing wrong with scrapping any plans because one or both parties involved are feeling unsure. No scene is worth the risk of emotional or physical harm. It might sound corny, but in the BDSM world, it’s a bright and shining maxim: it’s always better to live to play another day.

By the way, the responsibility goes both ways. While it’s not always possible to know ahead of time what might be a trigger, the submissive should be up front and clear about the physical or emotional limits they are aware of. And, yes, everyone has them: saying you don’t have any is a sure sign of someone who is far too inexperienced to play.

We could go on and on and on about this, but consent and negotiation really are one of the most important parts of any scene. Always start here.

Safety, Safety, Safety

The second BDSM maxim: hope for the best and plan for the worst. This means that you should have whatever tools you need in case something goes wrong. Emergency scissors if you are doing bondage, any medications that might be needed, a phone to call an ambulance in an emergency, a friend who will check in on both of you to make sure all went well, water to drink, and - most of all - a total willingness of everyone involved to slow things down, or end the scene completely, without a moment’s hesitation.

Safety, like consent, is the most important part of any scene.

So, we have our tools and toys, we have clear consent, and we have every type of safety gear that might be needed. So, what now? How does a dominant put together a good scene?

Surprise Isn't Your Friend

This might come as a shocker, but one thing that should not be on your mind is to surprise your playmate. I know, I know. I can hear you loud and clear: where’s the fun in that? Or, even more common, especially for people in the scene, "But my Dominant did this [unexpected thing] and it was hot, hot, hot."

Let me clarify: there is a big difference between a surprise that is off-the-books versus one that might be pulled from an unexpected page. Let me clarify further: let’s say you have negotiated a flogging followed by a caning. Then, between the flogging and the caning, the dom lights a candle and dribbles some hot wax on the submissive.

This is a bad surprise if the submissive did not indicate that this would be OK to do. Actually, the term "bad surprise" is the wrong way to put it - this borders on sexual assault.

However, if the submissive said that they would be open to this activity during the negotiation, and if the dom received permission before proceeding, then this is a good surprise. Get what I’m saying? You can be spontaneous only within the framework of things previously negotiated as well as receiving permission before acting.

Putting Together a Composition

A key part of creating a scene is knowing the notes, to use a music metaphor, to the composition you will perform. A lot of this will come through experience, both giving as well as receiving. Give yourself some time to learn before trying anything overly complicated.

Because of this, keep it simple - especially if you are relatively new to BDSM or are playing with someone you are still getting to know.

A good place to start is generally called a warm up (though what this involves will always vary from person to person). For the sake of example, let’s say our scene was negotiated once again to include a flogging followed by a caning. A warm up could be something like a flogging with a lighter toy, something on the low-intensity range. This way, the submissive can get in the zone, so to speak, and the dom can get a feel for the submissive’s physical reactions.

After this, the dom can switch to a heavier toy, thus steadily revving up the intensity. A check between toys, or after a good length of time, is not just a great idea, but another essential one. You have to maintain those lines of communication. If you are unsure, call a break, talk to the sub, and proceed (or not) from there.

As you get more familiar with your submissive, you can get to know what other toys and techniques you can bring to the scene, adding notes and melodies of sensation to your composition, but always maintaining those clear lines of communication.

Letting Go of Expectations

There’s a tendency, especially with people new to BDSM, that they have to plan our every single detail of the scene, like a kinky invasion of Normandy.

The problem with this is that the scene can sometimes becomes more important than the person being played with. As a result, the dom ends up getting disappointed or frustrated that things aren’t going to plan. Sure, you can have a basic idea of what you want to do, but be prepared to change or stop without getting a bruised ego.

Fantasies Aren’t Reality

While it might be tempting for a dom to try and make a submissive’s fantasies into reality, it takes great communication and some extensive experience, both in being a dom as well as playing with the person involved, to be able to pull it off.

While your heart (and other body parts) might be in the right place, there's a huge difference between, say, fantasizing about being bound up in barbed wire and actually having that done in real life.

Apologies if I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but before you decide to try to make your playmate’s dreams into reality, be sure you talk it out before moving to action. Many fantasies, after all, are that for a reason.

Aftercare

No matter what scene you put together never forget the aftercare. Aftercare isn’t always needed, but if it is needed, you must respect it as a key part of your emotional and physical safety for those involved. If you are unwilling or unable to wholeheartedly provide it, you must be upfront about this to the person you are playing with because failing to give needed aftercare is paramount to emotional abuse or neglect.

Playing Your Composition

Music metaphor again: you have your instruments, you have your notes (the list of what your submissive needs to have happen, might be open to experiencing depending on their mood, and what they never/ever want to have happen), and you have your emergency exits all in clear sight. Now it’s time begin your performance.

There’s some room to improvise, but always within the framework of communication and consent. You both knowingly consented and clearly stated what you want out of the experience. You know what your toys do and how to get them to flow with each other, light going to heavy then maybe back to light before moving more into heavier and, at the end, you have your aftercare all set.

Yes, there’s a lot to manage, much to pay attention to, and a lot of things can go very wrong. That’s what education, experience and thoughtfulness are for: to help you not just make things go well, but also give you tools for when they don’t.

And remember that when it comes to building a hot scene, there's really only one overriding goal: that you both have a great time.