Red Pencil Thursday

Red Pencil ThursdayMy critique volunteer is a return visitor, Eliza Knight. She’s a multi-published author who’s been brave and transparent enough to allow her work to be dissected publicly on my blog. I really appreciate that courage because it helps everyone realize that writing is a fluid art and extensive rewriting is the norm. Until the manuscript goes through editor requests for revisions, copy-edits, and galley review, it’s still just a draft.

My comments are in red. Eliza’s are blue. Please add yours at the end of the post! A critique group’s strength is the diversity of eyes around the table. Whether you’re a reader or a writer, we welcome your opinion.

A Pirate’s Bounty

This title does what a title is supposed to do–tells the reader what sort of story to expect. I’m glad you avoided the obvious “booty” and substituted “bounty” instead. It also brings to mind “Mutiny on the Bounty” so it foreshadows some conflict as well.

The Coast of the Greek Isles, 1764

Mmmm. Delicious setting.

Isn’t it? I’ve always wanted to write a story there…

The crack of the whip stung as it sliced through the flesh of Faryn’s bare ass. She bit hard on the inside of her cheek refusing to cry out as she knew the crew liked to hear.

Since this is a historical, I suggest you consider using “arse.”  It has more of a historical ring to it. Also, I wonder if you ought to modify “sliced” to something less gruesome. When I read, I want to wear the heroine’s shoes. I’m seeing blood running down her thighs. If this poor girl’s being sliced, I’m hesitant to even slide a toe into her slippers. How about The crack of the whip stung Faryn’s bare arse.?

Oh, good point! And you’re so right… she didn’t actually get sliced, amazing what a simple word can do to a scene, eh? I definitely want my readers to slip more than a toe into her slippers, so will definitely change that!

Metal clanked against the masts as men heaved and hoed to get the sails down now that they’d come into port. Instead of a white sail flying prominently against the mainmast, this ship’s flag was a sail. Large and intrusive, its image would shake any ship or person who neared it. Even on a starless night, the moon shone on the design, which sent an involuntary shudder through her now, just as it always did. Against the wide black backdrop, sewn in white a large skull, and beneath it two silver swords crisscrossed. Below that was clearly an image in white of the top half of a man, well-muscled, who held the two swords.

I liked the auditory cues of metal clanking. A couple of little picks. Is “hoed” a word? If you have a starless night, it’s due to cloud cover which means you’d likely have a moonless one as well.

Lol, I don’t know actually… I was just picturing the pirates saying, “Heave! Ho!” Maybe I will change that to actual dialogue. Very true about the cloud cover… Maybe I will have the clouds floating and then they reveal the moon.

“School your hands, mate! Orelia will not be pleased that you marred the flesh of one of her slaves.” The voice was filled with authority, and though he spoke English, she noted a slight undertone of French, something she ought to remember, but as soon as the thought entered her mind it was quickly gone again.

Like the sound of “school your hands.” It has a ring of history. We understand what the speaker means even if we wouldn’t use the expression ourselves. Why is it important that we know Faryn forgets the man is French?

I love using historical terms, phrases, it really helps to entrench the reader in the time period. As for the French part…well… without giving too much away, she is also French, so she hopes maybe to gain an ally.


The word echoed in Faryn’s mind over and over in tune to the throb of the welt on her flesh. She looked around with glazed eyes. A rough crew this was. Weapons covered their bodies, some crude, some elegant—and so very out of place, with their rough shod clothing. They smiled, some with teeth and some without. They leered at her with one or two eyes, some covered with a patch. Some grabbed at their crotches and waggled what little bits of male flesh hidden beneath the layers of grubby breeches. Except for one. The captain. He stood out. A cut above the rest.

A welt instead of a bloody gash. I’m relieved. I think hidden should be changed to hid. Read that sentence aloud and see which sounds right.

You missed a chance to show us instead of tell us what made the captain stand out here.

Lol, I’m relieved too! I definitely need to change that sliced word!  Yes, hid does read much better. Good catch on show vs. tell! And he’s such a hot dark hero, I need to show that!

Slave. Slave. Slave.

This was why they’d taken her in the middle of the night. She cursed her sleeplessness and need to walk on the beach that dreadful evening. They’d ripped her from everything she knew, tied her hands behind her back, tossed her over their shoulders and disappeared into the fog. She would be slave to Orelia. But who was Orelia? She’d never heard the name before now.

If you’re going to include back story this is the way to do it–in tiny chunks. Good job. We need to know how our presumably smart and capable heroine finds herself in these dire straits. You’ve explained matters with admirable economy of words.

Thank you :-)

“Avast ye wretches, down ye go, else prepare to feed the fish!” a man shouted, as he hobbled up and down the line of slaves on one foot and a wooden peg leg.

Faryn hurried to line up with the other beaten and naked men and women who would serve as slaves to the mysterious Orelia, eager to have her feet walk on steady ground again. They’d traveled far, she was sure. And as she stepped down the gangplank, splinters sinking into the tender flesh of her feet, she was hit with the all too aware knowledge that escape would not come easy.

Wasn’t she tied while she was being whipped? If so, I didn’t see anyone cut her loose. It might provide an opportunity for a “moment” if the captain is your hero.

Excellent point! I will have to have him cut the ties.

She might be hit with awareness or with knowledge, but I’m not sure what aware knowledge means. She was hit with the awareness that escape would not come easy simplifies and tightens the last sentence.

Excellent suggestion!  This is why it is so important for others to look at your work, as the writer, you just don’t see those little tiny things!

You’ve created lots of questions for us, Eliza which is what the beginning of a novel is supposed to do. I’d like to see Faryn find freedom.

Thank you, for having me on RPT, Mia! A great experience and excellent suggestions and catches.

And you will see what happens to Faryn this summer! A Pirate’s Bounty, was just contracted with Ellora’s Cave for their Ahoy! theme—a ton of excellent pirate romantica stories.

Author Bio: Eliza Knight is the multi-published author of historical romance, erotic romance, historical fiction and non-fiction. Visit Eliza at,, or

Thanks for dropping by, dear reader. Now it’s your turn to add your voice to the critique. What suggestions do you have for Eliza?

21 thoughts on “Red Pencil Thursday

  1. santosh says:



  2. And may we add,toilet paper on her shoe? Amen and amen!

    Sharon ;)

  3. Hi Eliza–

    I’m relieved Mia didn’t leave any slices or welts on you! Great lesson, thanks for being brave and thanks to Mia for her constructive and kind feedback. Great role modeling. ;)


    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Slices or welts? Never, Sharon. I try to stick with the proverb “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” Would we let a friend leave the lady’s room with her skirt tucked in her panties? No way.

      A friend will tell you the truth with gentleness. That’s what a critique should do too, always with the caveat that the author has the final say over her own work.

  4. Oh Eliza, you are a brave soul for doing this and I applaud you.

    Secondly, I LOVED the sound of this story so far….can’t wait til it’s released. I am so getting this one!

    1. Eliza Knight says:

      Thank you Renee! I am going through my first round of edits right now, so Mia’s RPT came right in time!

  5. I loved reading the excerpt and critique of your work, Eliza. It’s awesome and incredibly brave of you to put your baby out there for others to see critiqued. Thank you, Mia & Eliza.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      It does take courage to take your bath in public, but fortunately for the rest of us, Eliza is just that brave. The point, as always, is to help all the writers who drop by find ways to strengthen their own work.

      1. Eliza Knight says:

        Thank you Angela,I’m glad you enjoyed it!

        And thank you Mia :) I don’t know if I’m that brave… I was a bit nervous! But Mia is such a great critiquer and does it in a way that is very constructive.

  6. I’m hooked and can’t wait to read. I enjoyed the red pencil comments and found them useful in my continuing efforts to learn and think in new ways about my own writing. Thanks to both of you for sharing.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Great, Clancy. That’s the whole point of RPT. All of us can take something away that’s useful for our own work.

      1. Eliza Knight says:

        Thanks Clancy! I agree, I love reading the comments and Mia is so wonderful in her critiquing.

  7. I SO love a pirate story and this one sounds very intriguing. Have fun with it, Eliza. I enjoyed the excerpt and can’t wait to see what happens. :)

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Those swashbuckling heroes are hard to resist, aren’t they?

      1. Eliza Knight says:

        Thanks Paisley :) I enjoy pirates too! I was bound to happen that I’d write about one!

  8. Nicole North says:

    Awesome excerpt and critique! Very interesting reading! Congratulations on the contract, Eliza!!

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Thanks for dropping by, Nicole.

      1. Eliza Knight says:

        Thank you so much Nicole :)

  9. Barbara Britton says:

    Hi Eliza,

    Interesting opening. I liked the damsel in distress trying to get back home storyline. Certainly, I am rooting for Faryn.
    I only had one question pop in my head. Why are they beating the slaves if Orelia would be unhappy w/ marks? It doesn’t seem like the slaves have done anything wrong?
    Just the sympathy in me coming out.
    I’d keep reading though!

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Good catch, Barbara and an easy fix. With one sentence Eliza can explain her heroine tried to escape or something.

      1. Eliza Knight says:

        Thanks Barbara! Great idea!

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