(I'm still working out my thoughts on this topic, so bare with me. I may well come back to edit it as I think things through a little more.)
Dominants set rules. Submissives obey them. If the Sub disobeys a rule, he may well be punished by the Dom.
Discipline in action. Simple.
Of course, that's ignoring the fact that the Sub also sets rules for the Dom. But those rules are generally called limits and if they are broken it's a whole different ball game, so we'll keep them for another time.
Rules can be anything. Big things, little things, petty things even.
For example, "You're not allowed to have sex with anyone but your master," is a pretty big rule - regardless of if you're kinky or not, monogamy is a big thing to a lot of people. The method of enforcing discipline that comes into play if the rule is broken would likely be correspondingly large. The punishment for breaking that rule may well be the end of the relationship in a lot of cases.
"You must address your dominant as sir," is a smaller rule to my mind (disowning someone for forgetting a title is somewhat over the top!) but one that could be considered very important. Some people see honerifics as vital for the head space, others see them as a sign of respect, still others see them as less important. The punishment could vary hugely depending on how someone sees the rule.
Which brings me neatly onto the how of the matter.
There are lots of methods of discipline and lots of methods of punishment. Technically they are two very different things. Discipline is the maintaining of a certain standard of conduct, punishment is a means by which those standards could be enforced, if you see what I mean, but a lot of people use the terms interchangeably.
Punishments can be anything, depending on the people involved and, in particular, on the limits of the submissive. (Punishments should always stay within limits.) The other thing that can have a huge effect on what the punishment is, is what the Sub enjoyes. If someone enjoys being spanked, a spanking isn't a punishment, lol.
Okay, common punishments -
Corporal Punishments. A physical punishment. Spanking, whipping, cane, flogger, etc.
Now, I don't write about these a lot. If one of my characters is spanking the other, then they're both probably enjoying themselves. But since I have written it a few times from a discipline point of view, here's how it goes in my stories in those cases.
It can never be about one person being bigger and stronger than the other and using the threat of or actual physical violence as a method of controling them. That's not kink, that's abuse. I'm not a fan of stories that can't tell the difference, even less so of people who can't.
One case from one of the stories I wrote a while ago springs to mind. In it the Dom spanks the Sub because he did something wrong (In this case, he did something that put himself in danger. His master wasn't pleased that he took so little care of himself.) He feels guilty and that he let his master down and can't get past that. His master spanks him. Sub doesn't enjoy it, but he finds it cathartic in a way - a way of paying pennance and showing his was sorry for his mistake. Sub got a lot more out of it than the Dom.
Other physical punishments. Standing in one place - possibly in a stress position, restriction on movements, anything that causes some sort of physical discomfort could be used. Cold shower anyone?
Again, I find when I use these in my stories, I find it's not about what's happening on the outside that's intersting - it's all about what happens inside the characters mind - about what each person gets out of the punishment. If there isn't a positive result at the end of it, then there isn't any point in it.
Other punishments can be as simple as writing out lines, doing chores, doing pointless but time consuming things just for the sake of it. Think - writing out lines in school or cleaning X with a toothbrush. Educational establishments and the military have a good stock of these sorts of punishments :)
The whole "you've been naughty and need to be punished, don't you?" thing does nothing for me. And I don't agree with setting a submissive up to fail, so in my stories a punishment is not play, and play is not punishment...
Okay, I have a lot more thoughts on this topic, but I'm going to have to stop short here.
It's midnight. I have work tomorrow and I'm knackered.
If I don't get time before, then I'll do Discipline part two as next weeks word of the week.
Sleep well everyone. Nos Da :)