The Critique Circle

Submitted into Contest #46 in response to: Write a story that takes place in a writer's circle.... view prompt

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General

Hi! My name is Talitha Henniker. I’m new to this group. I write poetry and short stories. Here’s my latest. Let me know what you think.


The Little Red Hen


Once there was a little red hen. She lived in a barnyard. One day as she was pecking in the garden, she found a grain of wheat.

“Who will help me plant this wheat?” she asked.

“Not I,” said the duck.

“Not I,” said the goose.

“Not I,” said the turkey.

“Very well, I’ll do it myself.” And she did.


The wheat soon grew into a plant.

“Who will help me water this wheat?” she asked.

“Not I,” said the duck.

“Not I,” said the goose.

“Not I,” said the turkey.

“Very well, I’ll do it myself.” And she did.


The wheat soon needed to be harvested.

“Who will help me harvest this wheat?” she asked.

“Not I,” said the duck.

“Not I,” said the goose.

“Not I,” said the turkey.

“Very well, I’ll do it myself.” And she did.


The hen now had a bag of wheat.

“Who will help me grind this wheat into flour?” she asked.

“Not I,” said the duck.

“Not I,” said the goose.

“Not I,” said the turkey.

“Very well, I’ll do it myself.” And she did.


Now she had a bag of flour and wanted bread.

“Who will help me bake the bread?” she asked.

“Not I,” said the duck.

“Not I,” said the goose.

“Not I,” said the turkey.

“Very well, I’ll do it myself.” And she did.


Soon she had a loaf of bread.

“Who will help me eat this bread?” she asked.

“I will,” said the duck.

“I will,” said the goose.

“I will,” said the turkey.


“Nobody wanted to help me plant, water or harvest the wheat. Nobody wanted to help me grind the wheat or bake the bread. Now you all want to eat the bread. I think I’ll eat it myself.” And she did.


JA: This seems familiar to me. Have you used a plagiarism checker?

FQ: The story is repetitive. Try tightening it up.

DV: You use the words “asked” and “said” too much. Try substituting other words.

SC: You need to flesh out your story with more description.

VV: Did you establish a setting?

LB: Your writing is choppy. Try using a few multisyllabic words.

AND: Never begin a sentence with a conjunction.


The Little Red Hen


A little red hen found a grain of wheat as she foraged in the barnyard.

“Who will help me plant this wheat?” she queried.

The duck, goose and turkey each refused to help.

Finally, the little red hen planted the wheat herself.


Growing plants need water and the wheat was no different. It appeared to wilt, so the little red hen asked the others for help.

“Who will help me water this wheat?” she inquired.

The duck, goose and turkey each refused to help.

Dragging the water hose to the garden, the little red hen set the sprinkler and turned the water on.


By the end of summer, the wheat had ripened and was ready to harvest.

“Who will help me harvest this wheat?” she implored.

The duck, goose and turkey each refused to help.


The little red hen worked alone and filled a bag with plump grains of wheat.

“Who will help me grind this wheat into flour?” she questioned.

The duck, goose and turkey each refused to help.

The little red hen took the wheat to the mill and ground it into flour.


She thought about what she could do with the flour and the image of a crusty loaf of bread came to her.

“Who will help me bake the bread?” she begged.

The duck, goose and turkey each refused to help.

The little red hen mixed the flour with other ingredients, kneaded it into dough, formed loaves and baked the bread.


“Who will help me eat this bread?” she held the loaf of bread up for all to see.

The aroma of freshly baked bread had permeated the barnyard, attracting the attention of the duck, goose and turkey. They all volunteered.

“Nobody wanted to help me plant, water or harvest the wheat. Nobody wanted to help me grind the wheat or bake the bread. Now you all want to eat the bread. I think I’ll eat it myself.”

The little red hen dined alone on the hot, crusty bread.


ST: Avoid height discrimination. Your main character would be just as believable as a person of average height. 

RL: You may want to consider the symbolism of the color red. Do you really want to portray your main character as passionate and lustful?

MM: I think you should round out your characters. Give each one some motivation for their actions and attitudes.

BB: If you’re going to anthropomorphize your characters, why not give them names and other human characteristics too?

HH: This seems unnecessarily sexist. Would the main character work as a male or perhaps as a female in a non-traditional role?

BQ: Boring title. Can’t you think of something more interesting?

EB: Use the Oxford comma.

PHR: What is your main character’s motivation? Example: Why did she want to plant the wheat?

RN: You need a hook, a compelling first paragraph to draw the reader in.

AB: Who is your audience, self-sufficiency advocates or social justice crusaders?

DC: This story is exclusionary. There are no non-fowl characters when a true to life barnyard would have a variety of other species.

DP: What about your gluten-intolerant readers? Where’s their voice?

MG: Is this story relevant in today’s economy?


Clever Meghan


On a clear spring day, Meghan, a young urban farmer, worked in her space in the Southside Community Garden, planted in the vacant lot left undeveloped after the neighborhood’s only market burned to the ground.

She was carrying water to her plot when she spied something different on the ground. Looking more closely, she discovered that it was a handful of reddish brown and black seeds. She picked the seeds up and took them to her space where she took a picture with her smart phone and posted it on Facebook with this message, “Who knows what these are?”

There were 267 replies, most of them “wow” emojis, but the consensus was that they were quinoa seeds. Meghan decided to plant the seeds to see what she could grow. 


“Who will help me plant this quinoa?” she invited the other gardeners.

Her neighbors were too busy with their own gardens or picketing for their favorite causes to help her.

Disappointed by her neighbors, Meghan planted the quinoa herself.


While quinoa plants are fairly drought resistant, they do need water to get a good start. “Who will help me haul water to give the quinoa a good start?” Meghan asked as she dragged buckets back and forth between the garden’s only faucet and her space.

Her next plot neighbor was busy pinching back the basil and refused. The man across the path was in a hurry to finish his weeding so he could get back to busking in the park. Old Mrs. Jones complained that Meghan had stepped on her best roses.

Meghan hauled water by herself for the entire summer. The quinoa plants grew tall, blossomed, and went to seed. Finally, they were ready to harvest.

“Who will help me harvest the quinoa?” she inquired.

The basil planted by her next plot neighbor had wilted from inattention. The woman hadn’t tended her plot for weeks. The busker from across the path was too busy riding in a motorcycle rally to protest global warming. Old Mrs. Jones complained that Meghan had stepped on her best roses.


Undaunted by her neighbors’ lack of interest, Meghan filled a reclaimed pillowcase with the tiny quinoa seeds.

She posted an announcement on the Community Garden bulletin board next to the water faucet, “I’m making quinoa bread on Saturday at noon. Who wants to help?” Nobody showed up, so Meghan did it all herself. She put the quinoa seeds into her food processor to grind them into a fine flour, combined them with other ingredients and baked a loaf of delicious quinoa bread.


She took the hot bread to a meeting of Community Garden members. “Look what I made with the quinoa seeds I grew in my garden space,” she proclaimed. “Who’ would like a slice?”

The nutty aroma of freshly baked quinoa bread wafted through the meeting room, attracting everyone’s attention.

“I’d like a slice,” Old Mrs. Jones said cheerfully.

The busker put down his protest sign and held out a hand for his slice.

“I only eat basil bread,” her next plot neighbor proclaimed, “but I’ll make an exception for your bread.”

“Nobody wanted to help me plant, water, or harvest the quinoa. Nobody wanted to help bake the bread. Now you all want to eat the bread. I think I’ll eat it myself.” Satisfied with her efforts, Meghan dined alone on the hot, crusty bread.


MS: You might expand your readership if you include a recipe.

DRT: You could make your dialogue more authentic by using current slang. Try inserting a little profanity and mattress action. You’ll double your readership.

BP: Who will play your main character in the movie?


F***in’ Clever Meghan


On a clear spring day, Meghan, a beautiful young urban farmer, worked in her space in the Southside Community Garden, planted in the vacant lot left undeveloped after the low income neighborhood’s only market burned to the ground.

She was carrying water to her plot when she spied something different on the garden path. Looking more closely, she discovered that it was a handful of reddish brown and black seeds. She picked the seeds up and took them to her space where she took a picture with her smart phone and posted it on Facebook with this message, “Who knows what these are?”

There were 267 replies, most of them “wow” emojis, but the consensus was that they were quinoa seeds. Meghan decided to plant the seeds. 


“Who will help me plant this quinoa?” she asked other gardeners.

Her neighbors were too busy with their own gardens or picketing for their favorite causes to help her.

Disappointed, Meghan planted the quinoa herself.


While quinoa plants are fairly drought resistant, they did need water to get a good start. “Who will help me haul water to give the quinoa a good start?” Meghan inquired as she dragged buckets back and forth between the garden’s only faucet and her space.

Her next plot neighbor was busy pinching back the basil and refused. The man across the path was in a hurry to finish his weeding so he could get back to busking in the park. Old Mrs. Jones complained that Meghan had stepped on her best roses.

Meghan hauled water by herself for the entire summer.

The quinoa plants grew tall, blossomed, and went to seed. Finally, they were ready to harvest.

“Who will help me harvest the quinoa?” she inquired.

The basil planted by her next plot neighbor had wilted from inattention. The woman hadn’t tended her plot for weeks. The busker from across the path was too busy riding in a motorcycle rally to protest global warming. Old Mrs. Jones complained that Meghan had trampled her wisteria.


Undaunted by her neighbors’ lack of interest, Meghan filled a reclaimed pillowcase with the tiny quinoa seeds.

Meghan posted an announcement on the Community Garden bulletin board next to the water faucet, “I’m making quinoa bread on Saturday at noon. Who wants to help?”


Nobody showed up, so Meghan did it all herself. She put the quinoa seeds into her food processor to grind them into a fine flour, then followed the recipe she found on the internet.


Quinoa Bread


  • 2 cups uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan pink salt
  • 3 tbsp room temperature coconut oil 
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Instructions

1.    Preheat oven to 400 º F and grease 8″ x 5″ loaf tin with coconut oil.

2.    In a food processor, grind quinoa for a few minutes until flour forms. Transfer to a large mixing bowl along with oat flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; stir very well. Add butter or coconut oil and stir until it is incorporated with dry ingredients in small pieces.

3.    In a medium bowl, whisk almond milk, maple syrup and vinegar. Pour into a bowl with dry ingredients and mix well with spatula.

4.    Transfer to a prepared loaf tin, level and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired. Bake for 60 minutes loosely covered with parchment paper for the first 30 minutes to prevent top from burning. Remove from the oven and let cool for about an hour. Then loosen the sides with a knife, flip the tin and give a few gentle pats on a bottom. Bread should slide out and cool off completely before slicing.


She took the hot bread to a meeting of the Community Garden members. “Look what I made with the quinoa seeds I grew in my garden space,” she proclaimed. “Who’d like a slice?”

The nutty aroma of freshly baked quinoa bread wafted through the meeting room, attracting everyone’s attention.


“I’d like a slice honey. You’re a sweetheart to offer,” Old Mrs. Jones smiled.

The busker put down his protest sign and held out a hand for his slice.

“I only eat basil bread,” her next plot neighbor proclaimed, “but I’ll make an exception for your bread.”


“F*** you!” Meghan triumphed. “Nobody wanted to help me plant, water, or harvest the quinoa. Nobody wanted to help bake the bread. Now you all want to eat the bread. Here's a news flash: I think I’ll eat it myself.”


Satisfied with her efforts, Meghan took the bread home to share with her boyfriend. She dropped it to the floor as they fell into bed together. After a night of unbridled passion, they ate it in bed the next morning slathered with wild raspberry jam.

Meghan’s garden plot was plowed under by protesters from the community garden on the other side of town. Angelina Jolie has signed to do the movie. #seewhathappenswhenyoudonothelp #lazyneighbors #clevermeghan

June 16, 2020 13:26

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