To read all of the entries for round three, please click HERE.


I’ve learned something about how I judge – my first impressions and first loves are not always the ones that I choose as my topic picks.

Here’s why: what strikes my fancy upfront doesn’t always pass the muster when I apply my criteria for judging.


The Criteria

1) The story must be well-written. If it is poorly written, I will be turned off immediately, before I even have a chance to see if the story meets the remaining criteria.
2) There must be a story…elements of plot, such as an enticing setting, rising action, conflict, tension, a climax (if possible or necessary to the prompt), a hint at the state of the world outside of what is shown to the reader. If a writer only provides a scene, those scenes usually just blend together with other scenes, getting lost in the mundane.
3) No matter how hot a scene, if I have no connection to the characters, no reason to care about them beyond the moment, then I have no reason to remember the writing. Character development is necessary! Who are these people? What are their motives? What do they need? Want? What are their weaknesses?
4) Per the challenge, the writing must also be erotic. Now, this is pretty subjective, I’ll admit. What one person finds erotic will not be the same as what another finds erotic. I’m capable of seeing the erotic in a piece, even if it doesn’t personally turn me on. I’m not into M/M stories, but I can see the lushness of a well-written M/M piece and move beyond my own sexual biases. Some writing even makes me uncomfortable, but in some instances, it is exactly that which makes the writing memorable to me.


This round pushed me to stay bound to my criteria. For, if I’d only gone with my first choices, my final selections wouldn’t have fallen in the order that they did. I found that once I applied my criteria, the most original stories fell further down on my list, because the were less erotic. And those that were more erotic, even though they were less unique, rose to the top. The funnier ones fell to the bottom. And a few that I really liked, fell off my list entirely because they left me with too many questions.


My Selections

“Hunter in the Wildwood” became a top pick as soon as I read it, which is something, considering it was second to last in the line-up. It is well-written unique, erotic, and hints at a world outside of itself, a larger story. In such a short space, it’s difficult to create a connection with all the characters, though not impossible. I didn’t connect with the man, but the narrator comes across clearly. We get a sense of her motives and needs. The title makes sense, and the piece feels complete…from “first” to “finally.” Also, the pacing is good, the second person narrative pulls the reader right into the story, like a character. Nowhere does it feel rushed for the sake of a word count. This ended up being number #2 in my list.

#1 was “April 25, 2020”

My only complaint with this one, and with others in this collection, was that the quarantine and health situation was assumed to be understood by the reader. These stories will be confusing to an audience years from now, because the situation will not be automatically recognized. Even with the date in the title, it may take some research for a future reader to figure out the setting is during the Corona Virus pandemic.

That aside, however, this story is beautiful…sparse in ways, nearly poetic in places. The opening line is a wonderful hook, and the scene is set right away. I, as the reader, can place myself, and create a mental picture of the place. I also liked the tension created by the posters.

I did question how the pane of glass could be a second skin, though it does create a compelling, if confusing, image (at least for me).

The story definitely made me feel the longing of the characters.

I chose it over “Hunter…” because it felt more real to me, and the emotional pull was more insistent. I could feel the characters’ desire, where “Hunter…” felt more cold, even though that was probably intentional.

#3 was “Working to a Deadline,” another that did brilliant things with tension. The opening line is an immediate hook. I wanted to know what “this” was, so I kept reading with anticipation for the promised description.

There is a good blend of description and dialogue, and the present tense makes the action more imperative. Deadlines make me nervous, and that is exactly what this story did for me. So, I’d say it was successful in its intent. (Though, I very much dislike the turn of phrase…”beats her meat,” I looked past it as it seemed to fit the voice of the narrator.)

What would have been my #4: “Piano Duet in A” (sorry…I couldn’t find the correct character in my character map to complete that title) – I do have questions in this piece…such as why they title? But, I’m not a musician, so maybe I’m missing some imperative little piece that would pull it all together if I knew. Even without fully understanding the connection of the title, I do like the story, especially for the little specific details that create a moving picture in my mind. The sounds…the tattoos…the movements of her elbows… And the simple and open-ended last line leaves the door ajar for a story outside of this one.

The story isn’t necessarily unique, which is something that cut so many of this round’s entries off of my list. But this one is more than just one person watching another for the sake of watching.

The reason I had to cut it from my list? This is told from the perspective of the one being watched, which, technically goes against the prompt. Dammit. As much as I hope he sees the scene she has orchestrated, there is no telling his vision from through that keyhole.

So, “Dirty Laundry” became my #4. It isn’t necessarily unique, either. But, pulled me right in and turned me on. The description of this big, wooly man masturbating with her panties and body wash, and fucking his ass with his fingers…yep…that hit the spot! And the final line sent it right on home with a little mischievous humor, pulling it all together.

My fifth choice was initially my first: “On Call.” I liked this one because it was a real story. There were characters with backstories and motivations. They were deeply human, and therefore easy to connect with. Plus, I felt this was a very unique take on the prompt. It moved down my list, because, upon closer inspection and scrutiny, I didn’t find it particularly erotic.

Number 6, “Observation,” similarly to number 5, moved down my list because, although it was unique and intriguing, I didn’t find it particularly erotic.

“Subterranean Rock Cock Blues” was my 7th choice. Though I dislike the title (how is this about the blues?), and even though it kind of made me uncomfortable…I found it aroused me, anyway (gasp!). Plus, it definitely stood out among the other entries, so I give this writer kudos for taking us places that many of us maybe wouldn’t have gone on our own.

My eighth and ninth choices were “the funny ones.” Humor can definitely help a piece stand out in the crowd, but the reason these ones didn’t end up higher on my list, is because I didn’t find them particularly erotic. “Home Early” and “Hot Man Sluts” were good stories that simply made me laugh.

I had a few final choices that sort of hung out in the periphery, but I finally ended up going with “Best ride ever.” I felt it moved too quickly and didn’t give enough build up…she just hopped in the car and started wanking. It would have been better if the woman’s character were exposed a bit more and she’d taken a little time to warm the driver up. But the narrator was a likable character, and his voice came through despite the shallowness of the girl in the back.


The Rest

No piece of writing is perfect. I liked quite a few of the pieces in this round, but so many of them were boundless scenes with no connection to a story and characters that seemed shallow and secondary to the sex. I also came across words and turns of phrase that just turned me off (which may be a personal thing) and a few pieces that tried too hard with purple prose and overly flowery sentences. And there were several pieces inspired by current circumstances (Covid-19 and quarantine) that wouldn’t make sense to an audience that wasn’t living it right now. It was simply assumed that the audience would understand certain details.

#1 “Forbidden by Wicked Sisters” – The language seem overdone to the point of contortion here…also, why are the narrator’s fingers forbidden? Wouldn’t it make more sense that what they do is forbidden?

#3 “Welcome to the Machine” – This seems like a really interesting idea, but it’s not described in enough detail. What IS the machine? Why are they all naked? What are the rules? I have too many questions.

#8 “The Working Girl” – I like how the opening and closing lines bookend the piece.

#13 “60-Second Show” – The countdown creates movement and momentum (tension).

#17 “Peeping Tom’s Surprise Show” – You lost me at MILF. It’s a clunky term, and even though it fits with the voice of this rather unlikable character, I couldn’t get past it.

#18 “Voyeur See, Voyeur Do” – It is a cute idea, but it lacked detail and description. It felt more like a retelling of a story, rather than the story itself.

#20 “Rear Window” – Excellent use of dialogue to tell a story.

#36 “A Daffodil in Spring” – The prose seems a bit purple with this one, though it may fit the voice of the narrator. I couldn’t figure out if the voyeur was behind the mirror? Maybe I’m daft, to not just “know” that, but I didn’t feel it was intuitive. I liked how her name fit the flower theme…but an amaryllis is a lily not a daffodil, so shouldn’t it be “A Lily in Spring”?

#41 “Cherry Blossom Road” – Great last line. Powerful endings leave a reader with something to hang on to.

#42 and #44 kind of gave me the creeps… fucking the ghost of an overdose victim or catching my mom in the act? Not so sexy.

#50 – Good hook…had potential and then sped through things and fizzled out with a rather lackluster ending.

#56 – Great first line! But, it seemed so sad. I couldn’t figure out if he was angry, depressed, aroused, or all three as he watched his wife get fucked by these three men. Maybe the juxtaposition of these emotions should have been played up a bit more to make the story (and the character) more complex?

#57 – Not a bad story…well-written…but I’m left feeling like so much was left out…that you sped through and cut all the description that would have made this a sexier tale.

#58 – This felt more like an anecdote – the retelling of a story, rather than the story itself.

#61 – Good setting and good set-up, but it fizzles from there. This could have been a very hot ride, but there needs to be interaction between these characters. What is this doing to him?

#64 – Moves too fast to be believable.


I didn’t give feedback on every story this time. Many of them bled together in my memory, to be honest, because they were simple scenes without deep characters or circumstances that mattered beyond the sex.

Remember: good writing, story (plot/tension…even just a hint of this may be enough), character development, and eroticism.

I’d say eroticism is the last on the list, because what people find sexy is so subjective. You are more likely to hook a wider range of readers with good writing, good characters, and a good story. Then hit ’em with the sex. We are more likely to be open to things that we don’t like or aren’t sure about if we have already been lulled in by good narrative.

And last but not least…it’s easy to tell when a writer likes their own writing. It flows through the words. If a writer isn’t engaged in his own characters or the story, it will fall flat. So write the story that comes from your heart, and create characters you can connect with. Your readers will appreciate the honesty and passion of your craft, even if they don’t love your story as much as you do.

Just my 72 cents.

5 Replies to “Smut Marathon – Round 3 Feedback”

  1. I read the feedback for each piece even if my own wasn’t selected for comment. I always figure theres something to learn from anything especially as I have so little experience myself.

    I just want to add a thank you for the time and effort you put into your feedback and also for being a judge.

    I hope you stay safe and well.

    Sweetgirl

    1. Aww…thanks so much Sweet! It does take a lot of time, but it is worth every second if it helps a writer improve. I know I hung on every word of feedback when I was in the game!

      And yes, I’m safe and well! Hope you are too!

    1. I noticed lots of similarities this time around. While our ratings may not have been the same, the judges are honing in, and the cream is rising.

  2. Thank you once again for your extensive feedback, Brigit, and also for sharing your selection process, the way you judged the stories, as this gives the writers more of an insight into the judging by the different judges 🙂

    Rebel xox

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