BDSM For Writers by Dr. Charley Ferrer

Title:  BDSM for Writers

Author:  Dr. Charley Ferrer

Genre:  Non-fiction, Writing Instruction

Length:  Paperback 206 pages (digital formats available)

Publisher:  Institute of Pleasure (July 24, 2011)

Product Link

Online Excerpt available on Goodreads

Reviewer: Sage

Book Blurb: (from

Join world-renowned Clinical Sexologist Dr. Charley Ferrer as she provides authors with valuable information about Dominance and submission and the various power exchange relationships. This book addresses the emotional and psychological connections men and women make in this uniquely erotic lifestyle, dispelling many of the misconceptions perpetuated by Hollywood and the media. BDSM for Writers provides authors with a valuable tool to assist them in developing stronger and more realistic characters, plots, and scenes. Not only does this book cover the basics every author must know when writing in this particular genre, but it also provides insight into individual characteristics, personality traits, and lifestyle etiquette that adds realism to any fictional BDSM work. Discover the integral techniques and foundations necessary to train a slave, the benefits and pitfalls of rewards and punishment, and the various methods of how to use punishment and humiliation on a male versus a female submissive/slave to achieve optimum results. There is even a BDSM Checklist created specifically for authors to assist in developing characters and those deliciously wicked scenes.

Review:  Written in an engaging, talkative style which gives the impression you’re actually holding a conversation with a friend rather than reading a book on writing, BDSM for Writers captures attention from the first words of Joey W. Hill’s preface. However, the chatty writing style quickly becomes detrimental in a non-fiction reference book as there are no footnotes or endnotes attributing any of the quotes made along the way. This same fault occurs when reference examples of kinds of behavior in the BDSM community. AN example is given, yet there is no note of any kind saying – personal conversation with so-n-so, even if the name used is a pseudonym to protect the individual’s identity. Additionally, things are stated as fact with no attribution to outside research. Yes, many of these facts are common knowledge within the BDSM community; however, an author should never assume that all their readers share the same knowledge base.

Often an acronym or term is introduced, used repeatedly and only later defined as to its exact meaning. Luckily, many times these terms are again common knowledge which anyone doing a bit of online research into the BDSM lifestyle will already have been exposed to; however, again, this lack of immediate explanation is a determent to the context of the book. For example, Dr. Ferrer begins to discuss the basic rules of a BDSM relationship by defining the term ‘safeword’ in the context of ‘SSC/RACK’ relationships but doesn’t explain the later term until two paragraphs and one page later! If you don’t already know the anagram, you will have no idea why Dr. Ferrer is using the term in her definition. It’s not until the third chapter of the book – after pages of generalized discussion – that Dr. Ferrer actually takes the time to fully  define many of the terms she’d already been using. Thankfully, many of the terms are either in common usage, are understandable from context or are casually defined whenever they are mentioned in the text.

Additionally, there are some formatting issues with the book. The copy I read for this review would shift back and forth between one inch margins all around the text to inch-and-a-half left margins with one-inch right, top and bottom margins. Many of the errors are easily ignored – such as missing periods at ends of sentences, misplaced periods and a repeatedly used non-traditional spelling of ma’am – but partial parenthetical phrases where the beginning/ending parenthesis is missing and common, easily noticed spelling errors quickly became irritating.

BDSM for Writers suffers from an inherent bias on the part of the author toward heterosexual relationships, specifically, female dominant/male submissive relationships. From the beginning of the book through to the final pages, the reader is constantly reminded that this is the preferred relationship for the author and that – all gender pronouns could be switched as needed – as if the dynamics of BDSM relationships are completely interchangeable. While this could indeed be the case, it is difficult to ascertain from the text. Only twice – once in the section discussing anal sex and once in the resource list – does the book directly reference male/male authors. And then only to refer these authors to other books.

After all of the hype surrounding this book in the writing community, I must admit to being extremely disappointed in it. None of the material was really new to me, nor was it something I hadn’t found in other BDSM non-fiction books. The resource list was very short, mostly links to sites or groups known directly to the author, a few non-fiction general information books, and a few movies and fictions books. Again, the authorial bias was shown in this list. As an extremely basic introduction to BDSM, this book is passable though I feel it is greatly flawed due to authorial bias. Even the much vaunted BDSM Checklist for Writers is just a variation of similar checklists and instructions for filling them out easily located via a Google search.