Jury Member: Charlie Powell

Time is ticking away, which means only one more week – seven days – remain for you to enter the Smut Marathon 2019! Make sure you are not too late to sign up, and do so today. In the meantime, allow me to welcome our third jury member (Bee was the first, Jaime Mortimer the second) to introduce herself. Charlie Powell is no stranger to the Smut Marathon, as she was the first runner up in the Smut Marathon 2018 and this year she decided to see how things are on the other side of the fence.

Hi friends,

Charlie PowellI sort of envy the year of writing you’re about to embark on. I did it myself in 2018, and I can honestly say it’s one of the most challenging and emotional writing projects I’ve ever been part of. That said, although it is challenging (fine, fine, sometimes it can be downright stressful!), it’s also supposed to be fun, so don’t forget to enjoy it! For me, the real highlight was that I learnt a lot about myself and my writing and I hope you will, too.

You might wonder why I’m judging the Smut Marathon this year, rather than participating, if I enjoyed it so much. Mainly, it’s because of the headspace it requires – I have a number of writing projects on the go and in 2019 I want more time to focus on them. Being a judge lets me do that but still be involved – it feels like the best of both worlds!

I’m a straight, cis, white woman with a disability and a shitload of weird kinks, so I’m excited to read brave, original and beautifully written assignments. I edit for a living (not filth though, sadly!), so I’ll do my best to provide feedback on all stories in the most constructive way I can – usually that’ll mean giving examples of a couple of things I liked about your piece, along with something I think you could improve. If you don’t understand any of my feedback or you want to discuss it further, I’m happy to try and make the time to chat more about it – just let me know.

That brings us, I guess, to what I’ll be looking for when I’m judging. Essentially, I think it boils down to five different elements, some of which will become more important as the competition progresses. So …

1) Did you follow the instructions?
Sorry, but if you didn’t do what was asked of you in the assignment, I can’t give you points – rules are a pretty big kink of mine. To give an example from last year, if the assignment asks you to write a metaphor, double check you’ve not written a simile. But, following the rules doesn’t mean you can’t be creative in your interpretation of them – I love a clever take on a prompt.

2) Is it sexy?
Smut is a pretty personal thing. I don’t necessarily need to see your characters having full-on sexy time – dialogue, kissing, anticipation and great chemistry can all be sexy in their own right – but I do need to find the piece erotic. It sounds obvious, but you might be surprised how many of us sometimes forgot to do this last year!

3) Is it a story?
Erotica is a weird one when it comes to story. With any other genre, I’d almost always be looking for something with a traditional plot structure, by which I mean a clear beginning, middle and end, but if you write a beautiful, standalone vignette that leaves me wet and wanting? I’m certainly not going to mark you down for that.

4) Do I care about your characters?
Caring about them doesn’t mean I have to like them, but I do have to believe in the dynamic between them. Love, or even affection, isn’t a prerequisite for super-hot fictional sex – there’s nothing I love more than hate sex – but make me feel something. I don’t believe two people can fuck and not feel anything at all – though feel free to prove me wrong!

5) Is it well-written?
There are two aspects to this. The first is whether you’ve proofread your story. Typos happen, that’s life, but if you have loads of them, it makes your writing look like a rush job. That said, story and character come first for me, so I’ll be paying less attention to grammar and spelling in the early rounds than I will in the later ones.

The second aspect is how you use language. I’m looking for writing that’s not only accurate but also beautiful. Keep it simple, but make it stunning.

I hope some of the above is helpful. If you want to check out my writing or say hi (please do!), you can find my blog at www.sexblogofsorts.com and I’m @sexblogofsorts on Twitter.

Wishing you lots of luck and fun,

Charlie x

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