I don't want anybody to feel that they need to be worried about offending me. The whole idea of this is to jump in, rip the piece (and the writing skills of the writer for all I care) apart and learn, learn, learn.
...and feel a little guilty that I did not pick up on all those semi-colons.
So it's all Dave's fault anyway and that's fine by me.
"took sick and couldn't get there herself." Is "herself" necessary? Or this one:
"I think we had better all pray." Is "all" okay as is, or "I think we all had better pray."
Or this: "Stop them fighting." Should it not read, "Stop them from fighting."
I could be wrong here but then again that is the whole purpose of this exercise.
The prayer and fighting comments are speech and are written as I believe those characters would speak. I also occasionally deliberately leave obvious words like 'from' out to make it short, sharp and more dramatic. In the 'all' comment -- (I'm learning) -- that is the way I and most people I know would say it.
I agree with the 'herself' comment -- reads better without it and should have been left out.
I don't agree that something as important as "fighting for the Lord" in the context I used it can be considered a cliché. I think this is where a writer, his/her beliefs and the concepts of marketing/writing a best seller can come into conflict. Fighting for the Lord is far from a cliché for me personally; it's a lifestyle. So, having said that I do agree that many readers would find it a cliché; but I don't write for readers (as essential as they are).
DASH IT ALL
I'm still not comfortable with --. I looked at some of those stories Jan and the only dashes I saw were what I would call a hyphen and were used how I would use them. Something like, this man is guardian-protector, to connect two words into one; or to separate a word for some reason like emphasis "John, you are go-ing!"
But my lack of comfort is fine; that is also part of learning and I will get my head around this punctuation issue.
This does bring me though to another interesting issue - proper grammar in story writing. I'm not talking here about punctuation -- that would be an easy out for me. But when it comes to certain circumstances in the story I think we can bog the whole thing down if we insist on correct English sentence structure and absolute correct verbs, tense etc.
The obvious example is speech. I can not portray someone if I insist every word is correct. Example; "Ee, by gum, matey, take dat 'at hoff yer top." This is how my old granddad would have told me to take my hat off inside the house. And I've already mentioned more subtle examples above.
Another example is in drama. To keep things short, sharp and active, obvious word can be left out (as in "stop them fighting" above which could and should probably read "stop them from fighting").