lish1936 wrote: Perhaps because I'm a "title" person, I first took account of the title and found it on the weak side as it related to the story. I noticed the title - whether good or not so good - was not mentioned as part of the critique. Do the judges consider titles?
The title is not judged. However, a good title does make for a good first impression, and may have some slight influence on the judge's overall opinion of a piece (as a bad title also might). Graham's title, in my opinion, was on the weak side. I advise writers to stay away from titles that are recognized phrases or cliches.
lish1936 wrote: I also had some questions about sentence structure/awkward phrasing (for which I could be wrong, and probably am). For ex:
"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."
All of the phrases were within dialogue, and I didn't have any problem with them. People tend to speak in a much more relaxed fashion than they write. In fact, one of the main problems that I find in dialogue is overly-proper writing.
lish1936 wrote: I also found what I considered to be cliched phrases: Ex. "fighting for the Lord."
I missed that. If it's within dialogue, it doesn't bother me. Again, that's how people speak. If it's part of the narrative, it may be a bit of "Christian-ese," and perhaps should be rephrased with fresher words.
I was also surprised by the high ratings on some of the categories, especially in categories 3 and 4.
So let me know where I've gone wrong.
Not "wrong" at all, Lillian! As I've said, a critique is a subjective thing. Your opinion is certainly valid; if there was just one correct way to evaluate a piece, someone could invent a computer program to dissect every phrase and assign a number value. Keep up the critical thinking!