I'm not going to give away much here, but say a writer chooses to make use of a certain trope. Say that it's a well-used trope. Say that it's a trope that's been done, time and time again. I'm very likely to pass on this unless the writer gives me a compelling reason to give this story a high rating.
I'm bound to ask questions. Why does the writer choose to use a certain triggering incident? Why not another? I'm particularly interested in the "why" if the writer shows a strong voice and yet fails in the delivery.
I've also realized that like editors out there, I am also rooting for writers to give me the story that I can't pass on because it has grabbed my imagination and my emotion that much.
So, what can the writers of the Paul Harland Prize expect from me? Well, even if you don't get the pass, I'll tell you what works for me and what doesn't. I'm going to ask questions and then I'm going to tell you why I'm not giving this story a grade that will push it on to the next round. What I hope to see writers do with this criticque is the same thing I've been doing with crits and rejections all of my writing life: take that crit, apply it to your next story, try harder, be more critical of your own work, open yourself up for criticism, and then go on to write a winning story that will knock off a reader's socks any day.