• Blessings by Patrick Van Mil


    Judith looked as if she was watching a man throw himself off a boat into the undertow. I gave her a reassuring smile. She was having none of it. An angry frown rippled over her […]

  • Hi Linda,

    I enjoyed your story. The characters are well developed and believable. 

    Some things I thought well done:
    ·      Details. Jessie dressing herself, the walk to the coffee shop, and the picking out of the card and gifts are well wrought and easy for a reader to see.
    ·      Showing Jessie’s sadness and desperation to connect to som…[Read more]

  • Character Name: Theo

    The History 

    What moment defined the views your character holds now?

    Theo and his new wife were taken into a religious community over a Christmas when they had no money. Here, Theo had […]

  • Hi Randy,

    I liked that you wrote this from first person POV to get a feel of a character and his situation. Good insights and descriptions about his family. Some disturbing ideas and goals, but not every character is “nice”. It should make for an interesting story.



  • Hi Linda,

    This fills in Clare’s background nicely. 

    I was surprised to discover she had a brother, Alex. He wasn’t mentioned in the story. Nor was the dog. 

    Thanks for sharing.


  • Hi Peggy,

    I like the physical detail and description in this piece: the part about the spearfishing is very evocative. I think the dialogue between the two characters is quite natural. Also, I like the names you’ve given things, like the Tilik River.

    One thing to think about is the problem of anachronisms in a piece like yours. Since it o…[Read more]

  • Hi Randy,

    This is an interesting alternative to Mia’s story.

    I thought the dialogue was very natural, especially for teenagers. Also the thoughts: dramatic gestures like suicide to prove a point.

    I’m not sure the story show enough consequences for the action: her parents and pastor support her; her boyfriend supports her and offers to hel…[Read more]

  • Hi Linda,

    This is a good start to a lovely story. The physical description is quite good. Details such as the description of the sweater, the bed, and the vicinity of the lighthouse are very evocative.

    Two things to consider:
    ·      There’s a bit of head hopping between the POVs of Clare and Patrick. In a short story, this can be co…[Read more]

  • Untitled by Patrick Van Mil


    Mark climbed the steps up to the porch of the old house. It was an old house that had been converted to a nursing home. But badly. The porch sagged. Paint flaked off the pillars, […]

  • Hi Linda,
    This is a good start to a horror or suspense story.

    Using the recommendations from chapter six as a guide, here’s some things to consider:
    ·      It certainly starts at the last minute. The reader is there with Louise when strange things start happening.
    ·      We have a setting, the kitchen, with enough details to set things up…[Read more]

  • Hi Marilyn,
    This is a good start to a family drama full of stress and conflict. I like the sisters’ conflict and the passive-aggressive dialogue of the sister Carrie.

    Using the recommendations from chapter six as a guide, here’s some things to consider:
    ·      The opening has lots of backstory: memories from childhood and young adul…[Read more]

  • Hi Randy,
    This is a descriptive beginning to a story. Very evocative.

    Using the recommendations from chapter six as a guide, here’s some things to consider:
    ·      The setting is very well described
    ·      No characters are introduced
    ·      Some conflict (man vs nature) is implied but we’re not really told the specifics

    This seems…[Read more]

  • Patrick commented on the post, Jana by Peggy Rockey 2 weeks ago

    Hi Peggy,
    This is an interesting beginning to a story, not only because it reveals the husband’s guilt, but also because it reveals the sisters’ duplicity. Who is guilty and why? That’s a terrific setup.

    Using the recommendations from chapter six as a guide, here’s some criticism:
    ·      This beginning is a flashback and all back story. I…[Read more]

  • A Story Beginning by Patrick Van Mil


    Mark climbed the steps to the porch of the nursing home. It was a very old and neglected house. Even in the dim light of the porch light, Mark could see that the floor […]

  • Hi Mike,

    This is an interesting subject and unique switch: the hangman hanged.

    Besides a good, close set-up and quick action, the dialogue flows very naturally. I find Jake’s voice a bit inconsistent, though, as it veers from quite formal to quite informal from paragraph to paragraph.

    One confusing issue is the story starts out with an…[Read more]

  • Thanks for the comments!

  • Hi Peggy,
    It would be interesting to see the list of short stories that you admire.

    Two things I liked about the piece:
    ·       It’s very evocative. Pretty good description. Uses plenty of sensual details.
    ·       Very close and consistent point of view. We see the world through Pyre’s eyes and body.

    Two things to consi…[Read more]

  • Hi Linda,
    This is the start of an interesting story.
    Two things I liked:

    • the details of the kitchen in the first paragraph. These really enhance the setting.
    • the description of the activity in the hospital. Very realistic.

    Two things to consider:

    • my view is the first few paragraphs, while evocative, don’t fit in with the rest of the story. If…

    [Read more]

  • Hi Linda,
    This is a good start to a story. I liked the characters, all of them, even if Mike is presented with too much bias. Good presentation of a dilemma for the protagonist, Stevie, to figure out. It’s a lot of fun to follow her thoughts and reactions to events that are happening rapidly.
    A couple of things:

    • Mike is a bit too much the…

    [Read more]

  • Happy Days by Patrick Van Mil

    It was Patti, alright. A middle-aged woman, with an inscrutable smile, still beautiful despite white hair and creases and wrinkles. And dead. Patti was quite dead.

    Tony hadn’t s […]

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