I’m loving simply being a voter this round. It takes a lot of the pressure off, as I am neither a writer or a judge. This means I can be a critic, but I don’t have to be weighed down by the knowledge that my choices make or break the writers.

The way I normally vote is to simply read through the entries one time…cold…with a pen in hand. Anything that grabs my attention gets written on my list. I don’t worry to much about why it catches my eye, I just follow my gut. What do I really like? What can I connect to on an emotion level? And what wows me linguistically (because I’m a nerd like that)? This means anything that is cliche, or riddled with errors, or simply isn’t interesting enough to stand out amongst the fray is nixed on the first run-through. I also simply read, an write down the numbers until something really just says, “Pick me! Pick me!” If something really feels good, I put a star next to it.

Here are the results of reading #1:

5) The Birds
6) Perfect Camouflage
11) Filthy Silhouettes
14) Rock Show
20) All for Naught
23) Late Charge
29) Like Her Father – OH YES! This one is a keeper… (and juxtaposed with the one right before it “A Second Chance”…this shows what works…”A Second Chance” just isn’t sexy…but “Like Her Father,” which blossoms from the same starter, is not only sexy (subtlety), it also ends with a zinger/surprise…very creative!
32) Hidden Agenda
33) An Unexpected Consequence
46) Business Meeting
50) The Kinetoscope – The imagery, word choices, and syntax really stand out on this one! Also, this is another one with a real zinger ending. Nicely done!
52) Incomplete Contrition
55) The Sexiest Smile – This had so much potential…and then the ending just fizzled.
75) Wartime Lament
78) The Mailman’s Wife
83) Realized Anticipation

It’s important to know that, as a reader, I’m not drawn in my “dripping cunts” and “throbbing cocks.” I read a lot of erotica, so that stuff all seems to run together. Empty sex and cliched language simply makes me roll my eyes. In fact, I’ve read so much of that stuff that it’s actually become a turn off.

As I am looking for real story, it makes it fairly easy to knock quite a few entries off the list. I know it’s a “smut” marathon…but it’s also about story here. And audience. And if your “story” doesn’t grab your “audience” then it doesn’t matter how sexy you think it is.

That being said, just story isn’t enough in a contest like this. It has to be seductive. And with so few words, that can be hard. One piece of advice I CAN give is don’t rush the story to meet the word count. If your story won’t fit, tell a different story. It’s obvious when you delete too much. There are too many holes, and the reader is left feeling rushed and dissatisfied. Keep it to a scene…something that allows for the promise of more story later…something that grabs the interest of the reader and makes them want to know more.

I have to care about your characters. If all you give me is “he pushed his throbbing cock into her dripping cunt”…I don’t care. Especially when 40 other stories do the same thing; it’s easy to get lost.

And don’t worry…I’m completely aware that I don’t always follow my own advice. In fact, as I read these and really investigate why I’m choosing the pieces I’m choosing, I’m taking copious notes. What works? What doesn’t? Why? And how can I incorporate more of this into my own stories? I learn from my own critiques.

So…moving on to reading #2 was easy this time, as I’d already starred three pieces exactly! But, let’s take a look at these three a little more closely:

78) The Mailman’s Wife

Tanned skin, lean muscle, a mouth that curves with the hint of a smile: the new mailman delivers in more ways than one. He raises a hand and I picture it around my throat, pinning me down as we fuck. I smile and walk inside, leaving the front door open.

I open one eye, peeking into the monochrome cast of early morning. The window, a white square against the dark wall, reminds me of an open door and the shapely silhouette that took my brazen invitation ten years ago. I roll over to the warm spot, only recently vacated.

It blends well from the borrowed paragraph. The word choices aren’t overblown…they are simple, yet precise, creating clear images – “open one eye,” “peeking into the monochrome cast of the early morning,” “a white square against the dark wall,” “the warm spot, only recently vacated…”

This writer can say a lot with just a few words and puts the reader into the scene by provide sense details.

“Sleep. I’ll go start the coffee”, he’d whispered.

The dialogue moves the plot along; it isn’t just there to fill space.

I rub my hand over the rumpled sheets and burrow into their softness, seeking the remnants of his touch, his scent. I still feel his soft mouth and a tenderness in my scalp. He’d pulled my hair as he sleepily fucked me, a slow slick friction that enticed me from dreams with a gentle throbbing orgasm. Mornings like this make me glad there’s no mail on Sundays.

It’s sexy without overdoing it. While I personally dislike the word “throbbing,” it works in this context. The word choices stand out…lots of “s” sounds to pull it all together. And it’s effective that the final line and title act as book ends to the story. It makes it feel complete.

50) The Kinetoscope

It was a bit of business in the blackout. She unbuttoned my flies and I breathed in her perfume as we manoeuvred blindly in the alley. Then the sudden white flash of an incendiary bomb, freeze-framed us, and we saw the sad desperation inhabiting our tired eyes.

The change in point of view is a bit jarring…the move from first person narrator to third person.

He is already fucking her. Some jostle to get a view, in pale, juddering, artificial light.

Edward is facedown, stubble buried in Maisie’s neck. Maisie reclines, head thrown back, rouge lipstick sliding down her delicate jaw. Breasts spill from her best lilac-silk chemise: a heeled-shoe swings from her hooked leg. He could not be deeper inside of her. Ragged trousers slid to ankles, ripped shirt, expose scratches on Edward’s back and buttocks, where Maisie hungrily scoured flesh with her nails. Her hair is tumbling: bobby pins have come loose, her hat has slipped onto the tarmacadam.

This is seriously sexy and artfully described. The word choices and imagery draw me in and make me want to read more, and the sentence structures create and build momentum.

The couple no longer care.

The Home Guard create a makeshift cordon around the bomb site. The crowd disperses. A soldier tosses a compassionate sheet over the Penny Dreadful.

I want to know more of this story! And that is the mark of successful vignette/scene.

29) Like Her Father

This was the wrong place for arousal.
My mentor’s casket commanded everyone’s attention but my own. I was transfixed by his daughter as she approached the bier. The modest, black attire hugged her figure and I couldn’t ignore her body’s movements.
Her eyes found mine. I swallowed and she spoke.

Her voice sounded so much like his, all low and warm and husky, even as grief made the words thick and clumsy on her tongue. My gaze moved from her face to the cue cards she clutched in a tight grip, and I wondered if there were more ways they were alike. If her hands would feel the way his did, soft skin and a firm touch as they worked their way down my torso. If maybe her lips would feel a little like his pressed against mine, my fingers carding through her dark hair as I pulled her closer.
Her gaze narrowed, and I remembered where I was. Something in the pit of my stomach lurched, and I looked down at my clasped hands.

This one is very clever. The story takes that twist and it becomes obvious that so much more of the story is waiting beneath…that this character would not only be attracted to her, but has been involved with the father. It makes an already sort of inappropriate moment and makes it more so. My stomach lurched just before the character’s did. Nicely done.

My take-aways and “feelings” about good erotic writing: carefully crafted imagery is imperative; sense details are a must; unique word choices, sentence structures, and metaphors will set your writing apart; blatant sex is not necessary for a piece of writing to be sexy (it can even ruin it); the title can act as a hook; a zinger at the end can be powerful and stays with the reader; character and plot are the heart of a story…don’t give them up just to make a piece more sexual.

I’m not going to review the stories I didn’t choose. I think the most successful way to improve one’s writing is to look at what DOES work and practice that, rather than to look at what doesn’t work and try to avoid it.

Can’t wait to find out who wrote these stories! Good luck to all the contestants!

Results will be available this weekend on the Smut Marathon website.

4 Replies to “Smut Marathon (my thoughts on round 2)”

  1. Nice critique. I haven’t had a chance to read all the way through (I need to do so ASAP). Flash/micro fiction is an art that can be done poorly if one isn’t careful. I always think it needs to be as complete as story as you can make it.

    I’m also glad I’m not participating. I can write without being freaked about words and placement. It’s simply for enjoyment. Better for my mental health.

    1. I agree…that’s why I ducked out this year. Last year, I found it too time-consuming because I fret about every fucking word when I know it’s being judged. It would take me hours and hours to craft a story…and then I started writing two to choose from…and then I started putting it off longer and longer. It just didn’t do for my writing what I hoped it would. I may join again another year, but it feels nice to just be looking in from the outside this year.

  2. Great to read your thoughts on writing Brigit. Naturally chuffed (or should that be choughed?) that my story The Birds caught your eye. I also voted for Kinetoscope by Drew Stone.

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