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Author Topic: [Apr 2015] - Werewolf, Vampire, Girl - Plot Twist! - Critique Thread  (Read 12847 times)

Offline Raptori

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Re: [Apr 2015] - Werewolf, Vampire, Girl - Plot Twist! - Critique Thread
« Reply #15 on: June 03, 2015, 08:34:41 PM »
@Raptori I feel your pain with writing to competition rules. To be honest, were it not for the April Fools motivation I'd have had hell with this theme too. Twists are something everyone praises in short stories, but god damn are they hard to pull off. If I had to actually invent a topic as well I'd have crumbled in despair.
Yup, I think we'd have had an easier time coming up with a twist if there was a theme to go with it - it was easy to come up with the twist for our Rogues story, for example. When you can do anything, the sheer potential can be a bit overwhelming. Always find it easier to use limitations creatively than start with a blank slate. Same problem this month too!  :P
Oh, but you had a theme. Werewolf, vampire, girl.  ;D

And I can absolutely understand that because I'm the same when writing stories. Nevertheless I think it's great to have a kind of open theme from time to time and to hone a different kind of skill. :)
Yeeeeah...  ;D

Yeah I agree, it's good that it's difficult. These last couple of themes have been pretty challenging I think, and it's great to try all sorts of different things. Taking part (reading the entries, voting, and discussing stuff included) has been a huge amount of fun and (we think at least) helped improve our writing a lot.  :)
« Last Edit: June 03, 2015, 08:36:19 PM by Raptori »
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Offline Henry Dale

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Re: [Apr 2015] - Werewolf, Vampire, Girl - Plot Twist! - Critique Thread
« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2015, 08:39:09 PM »
Gonna bump my wish for critique or it'll drown in the sea of discussion on themes  :P

Offline ArcaneArtsVelho

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Re: [Apr 2015] - Werewolf, Vampire, Girl - Plot Twist! - Critique Thread
« Reply #17 on: June 03, 2015, 09:07:58 PM »
I will try to write a few lines about your story tomorrow, Henry. Sleepy now

And if you want (or someone else wants) to critique my story, I welcome it. No need spend too much time on it (if you don't want to); a couple good/bad points or something like that will suffice.
Everything I wrote above is pure conjecture. I don't know what I'm talking about.

I'm a perfectionist but not very good at anything. That's why I rarely finish things.

Offline Henry Dale

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Re: [Apr 2015] - Werewolf, Vampire, Girl - Plot Twist! - Critique Thread
« Reply #18 on: June 03, 2015, 09:13:19 PM »
I will try to write a few lines about your story tomorrow, Henry. Sleepy now

And if you want (or someone else wants) to critique my story, I welcome it. No need spend too much time on it (if you don't want to); a couple good/bad points or something like that will suffice.

Thanks, will critique yours tomorrow as well. Got a long train ride then to do it. Night!

Offline D_Bates

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Re: [Apr 2015] - Werewolf, Vampire, Girl - Plot Twist! - Critique Thread
« Reply #19 on: June 03, 2015, 09:30:22 PM »
Apologies Henry, I missed that request! Will write something before the end of the evening for you.
David Bates
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Offline Raptori

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Re: [Apr 2015] - Werewolf, Vampire, Girl - Plot Twist! - Critique Thread
« Reply #20 on: June 03, 2015, 09:53:01 PM »
I also completely missed that! I still need to critique Nora's story from last time, then I'll try to get around to the ones for this month.  :)
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Offline D_Bates

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Re: [Apr 2015] - Werewolf, Vampire, Girl - Plot Twist! - Critique Thread
« Reply #21 on: June 04, 2015, 12:15:36 AM »
@Henry Dale, though it will only say Henry I guess! Damn spaces... Underscore is where it's at these days!

This was short and sweet and told a great tale of soldiers making their last stand against a superior invading force. Despite its size, I think you got a lot of charcter in. The protagonist was very well done as a youth who'd joined the army looking for glory without any understanding of what he was getting into. The veteran captain was a good contrast to him, experienced, a little weary, and when it came down to the crunch he made the decision to send the innocent one of the group to safety. A good call and a nice moral.

Overall, your narrative was really concise, clear, well paced, and had a good voice. I had three little niggles in the text:
'Fabelhaft, sir.' He ventured, --though I see what you mean by saying ventured, the way this is positioned and its close relation to the words that were spoken makes it feel more an alternate tag for said. I'd suggest removing ventured and linking the sentence to the speech with a ," he said, hoping... instead.

The plan was easy enough but had proven to be effective before. --Something feels off with this sentence. I think what you were going for was something along the lines of, the plan wasn't a complicated one, but it was effective. Maybe switch out 'easy enough' with 'simple' could fix it, but atm it feels contradictory because something that's easier to do is likely going to be more effective unless it's only easier because you're not doing it properly.

It had grown louder and louder and was audible across the plains up to this point now. --This sentence felt somewhat excessive. He was hearing the hum right at the start, so it's already audible across the plains. All you really want to relay is that the hum is growing louder as the threat approaches, so tacking that point on to the part when he's getting worried about it and scrapping the part about it being audible across the plains would work better.

Storywise, I happen to like tales that make humans look bad. We live in a world where patriotism and loyalty to ones own 'kind' tends to blind people over right and wrong, and I think it's important to remind ourselves that no matter where we come from there are those that have committed horrific things in every culture over the centuries. It's not always as simple as us and them.
That said, it also works the other way. Not everything that is done in the name of a country is condoned by their fellow countrymen, or in this case, species. So earthlings attacking a planet to steal its resources does fall a tad into the land of hollywood cliche. I also think that if they were a serious invasion force they'd send more than just one super powered vessel. There's also a slight confusion coming from the alien camp: they seem to be aware that they're about to be attacked to the point where they have a tactic ready to ambush the aggressors, yet at the same time are oblivious to what it is that's coming for them.
At the end of the day that's being harsh for the sake of being harsh. None of that impeded my enjoyment of this as a short story--and I did enjoy it. Were it a scene in a novel I'd probably find it a bigger issue for the sake of suspension of disbelief.

Descriptionwise, I liked the fact that you were vague about the ship. I personally got a vivid image of some grand saucer with legs, sort of like something out of 'War of the Worlds.' I do think there was a slight issue with scaling when you said it was as big as a city. Were that the case I find it difficult to believe they couldn't see it in the forest before it arose. Surely it would have been levelling trees as it moved along. I'm not sure what alternate comparison you could make though, so maybe just take the easy route and use the neutral yet oh so dramatic phrase of, "That thing's huge!"

I would, however, have liked to have gotten a little more detail on the elstir. I guess that could have potentially ruined the twist, but like a few other stories, the twist here came off more as something that was thrown in for the theme of the month. Other than the elstir there's no subtle subtext to suggest that these people aren't humans. In fact, apart from the name and a striped hide the elstir are described as any horse I know. Were you to want to push for the alien planet I think you could put in some really creative sentences on how the tents and land features differ to our own.

Hope that was helpful, and I'm looking forward to reading your Fairytale entry!
David Bates
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Offline Henry Dale

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Re: [Apr 2015] - Werewolf, Vampire, Girl - Plot Twist! - Critique Thread
« Reply #22 on: June 04, 2015, 07:41:40 AM »
@D_Bates
I am unsummonable >:-)
Serious tho :p  I'll change it

Thanks so much for the feedback. You're really good at giving it :)
I'll try to rewrite the story from the insights people give me here as a second writing exercise, cuz it's really helpful.
The Elstir description is part of my great weakness: assuming other people see the same thing :p

My fairytale is in a bit of a different style, I hope you like it regardless :)



@ArcaneArtsVelho

I liked your story which was something between horror and thriller.
The initial sentences were a bit long so maybe chop those up, but after the first paragraph they get better and it gets a lot easier to read.
Your characterization is well done. We all get that the watchman is on edge cuz there's a killer on the loose and that makes him all the more vulnerable as a person.
Also the fact that he has a mace and not a sword is a bout of originality :p

The gift of seeing is a bit sudden though. He seems to have some magical premonition ability which is never touched upon later in the story. This makes it feel more like a plot device than something that's actually part of the world. Maybe when describing the city, you could've mentioned an academy of seers or something so we at least know this is a thing?

Were the goats and belfry references to certain unnamed forum members?  ;D

Offline Lady Ty

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Re: [Apr 2015] - Werewolf, Vampire, Girl - Plot Twist! - Critique Thread
« Reply #23 on: June 04, 2015, 08:55:50 AM »
@ClintACK, that's not how we'd thought of it, but I really wish it was. That'd have been a much better fit for the theme, and would have worked a hell of a lot better. Wish we'd have thought of that!

  :-[    I'll just be over in the corner pretending that "person who loves stories that only exist in his own head" is a translation of "writer" and not "crazy person".
I've always believed that the writer only creates half of the story, and the reader creates the rest. Each reader will interpret things differently, notice different details, skim over different sections, and picture everything in a completely unique way, so thinking of it as a two-way process makes a lot more sense to me. :)
@Raptori I think you are absolutely right that the reader does create half the story, and many novelists are happy to receive multiple interpretations and to enjoy the fact that readers see so much in their work. @ClintACK I think your interpretation was great as well especially as I am Greenpeace supporter. ;)

 I thought at first it was a dragon race on land. Near the end, when I realised it was underwater loved the thought of sea dragons and believed that was the twist, because that would be so unusual, and then found the dramatic rescue, the real twist, even more exciting.
You have nothing to fear about using sea grass or rubble. There are actually sea grass meadows and sadly as well as the terrible floating gyres of plastic, there is all sorts of rubble on sea beds from tsunami damage. Rubble is defined in the dictionary as applying to stone, but usage nowadays tends to cover material left or dispersed after any natural disaster.

http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/155952/
« Last Edit: June 04, 2015, 09:01:58 AM by Lady_Ty »
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Offline ArcaneArtsVelho

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Re: [Apr 2015] - Werewolf, Vampire, Girl - Plot Twist! - Critique Thread
« Reply #24 on: June 04, 2015, 11:29:17 AM »
Henry Dale (I'm not using the @ so that the poor person whose nick is Henry doesn't get notifications about being mentioned.  ;D He hasn't been active since he registered in 2012, though.  ::) )

I'm afraid that I don't have too much to add after D_Bates' comments, but I'll try to find something to say.

I liked your story. I guess that's the most important thing to say.  ;D

I think it was nice that you had kept the story short, but at the same time I would have liked a little more description of the surroundings, the elstir, and the aliens (How humanlike were they? Because I got the feeling they were just like humans). Of course, as D_Bates already said, that could have been detrimental to the twist and the surprise ending.

To me, the (first) twist (the huge ship of incineration) wasn't in itself all that effective (probably just because I was expecting a twist), but the main twist or surprise ending with the fact that it was humans/earthlings who attacked these not-so-advanced aliens (or should I say natives) really made the story for me.

I really like your writing, and I think you had managed to put a lot of... well, character into your characters. And I was really glad that Basil survived, even if only to die another day in the hands of the ruthless earthlings.

But yeah, I'm afraid that's all I got.  :-\


As for the comments you made on my story:

Thank you very much.

Yes, some of the sentences were too long. I was, in a way, experimenting, trying to make the sentences somehow oppressive but still have them flow decently. Didn't really work, but I had been struggling so long with the word count (among other things) that I didn't have the energy to start reworking them.

Glad you liked the mace. I thought about going with a halberd, but as the watchman wasn't really going to go against crowds but only alert others if there was something bad going on, I figured a mace would do. Swords are too damn expensive!  ;D

The thing about the gift of seeing is very true. Seers and their powers are very much a part of the world (which is the world of my WIP novel), but of course in terms of this story they might feel a little (or a lot) detached. I should have incorporated some other reference to them, though there wasn't really room for it even if I had noticed that fault. *Shakes fist at word count limit.*

When it comes to the belfry and the goats, I admit I was a tad influenced by discussions on this forum.  ;D   But I think that they fit my story quite well.


Thanks again.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2015, 11:34:55 AM by ArcaneArtsVelho »
Everything I wrote above is pure conjecture. I don't know what I'm talking about.

I'm a perfectionist but not very good at anything. That's why I rarely finish things.

Offline D_Bates

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Re: [Apr 2015] - Werewolf, Vampire, Girl - Plot Twist! - Critique Thread
« Reply #25 on: June 04, 2015, 04:48:08 PM »
You're most welcome Henry.

I'll do a bit on yours a little later tonight ArcaneArtsVelho.

And @Raptori, The venerable Lady Ty's link confirmed my suspicion that seagrasses are mostly coastal things in shallow waters (because I guess grass needs a good source of sunlight). I got the impression your dragons were a lot deeper out into sea, what with giant chasms and having to draw forth flames in order to see through the gloom on top of large fishing vessels (though I guess fishermen do trawl coastal regions too).

So if you were going to adopt these dragons (which are really cool) into a bigger thing, I'd still suggest dropping that. But then you wouldn't be hiding information for a twist in such a piece either, so a lot of those confusions that hit me (and I admit I was really tired at the time I read it) would probably not have come about due to a grander scope on the region.
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Offline JMack

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Re: [Apr 2015] - Werewolf, Vampire, Girl - Plot Twist! - Critique Thread
« Reply #26 on: June 04, 2015, 05:25:08 PM »
You're most welcome Henry.

I'll do a bit on yours a little later tonight ArcaneArtsVelho.

And @Raptori, The venerable Lady Ty's link confirmed my suspicion that seagrasses are mostly coastal things in shallow waters (because I guess grass needs a good source of sunlight). I got the impression your dragons were a lot deeper out into sea, what with giant chasms and having to draw forth flames in order to see through the gloom on top of large fishing vessels (though I guess fishermen do trawl coastal regions too).

So if you were going to adopt these dragons (which are really cool) into a bigger thing, I'd still suggest dropping that. But then you wouldn't be hiding information for a twist in such a piece either, so a lot of those confusions that hit me (and I admit I was really tired at the time I read it) would probably not have come about due to a grander scope on the region.

Or the dragons could be really small, and the shallows would be very, very deep for them.
But then the grasses would be more like wavy trees.
And the legs of the fly fisherman would be enormous alien walking pillars.
And...  :o
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Offline Raptori

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Re: [Apr 2015] - Werewolf, Vampire, Girl - Plot Twist! - Critique Thread
« Reply #27 on: June 04, 2015, 06:02:02 PM »
You're most welcome Henry.

I'll do a bit on yours a little later tonight ArcaneArtsVelho.

And @Raptori, The venerable Lady Ty's link confirmed my suspicion that seagrasses are mostly coastal things in shallow waters (because I guess grass needs a good source of sunlight). I got the impression your dragons were a lot deeper out into sea, what with giant chasms and having to draw forth flames in order to see through the gloom on top of large fishing vessels (though I guess fishermen do trawl coastal regions too).

So if you were going to adopt these dragons (which are really cool) into a bigger thing, I'd still suggest dropping that. But then you wouldn't be hiding information for a twist in such a piece either, so a lot of those confusions that hit me (and I admit I was really tired at the time I read it) would probably not have come about due to a grander scope on the region.
Yep, either that or establish that the dragons live in an incredibly clear place with very bright sunlight, which would allow the sea grass to grow at greater depths. It'd definitely need some more thought put into it for it to work out, but it could probably work either way!
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Offline D_Bates

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Re: [Apr 2015] - Werewolf, Vampire, Girl - Plot Twist! - Critique Thread
« Reply #28 on: June 05, 2015, 12:57:53 AM »
So, @ArcaneArtsVelho,

What with being the last one, yours may have been at a disadvantage when I read through the stories initially--and I was tired and did read them all in two nights--but overall I thought this was a good story to finish up on. Despite the warning at the start, there was nothing in it I didn't particularly like, and I thought it was a rather imaginative piece that had a nice circle from start to finish, even if the opening did sort of give away where it was going. That's okay though. Contrary to popular, as great as twists are, stories can be no less enjoyable just because they have a clear road to where they're heading. Sometimes the lack of a dumb twist for the sake of a twist is a twist in and of itself... Did I really just write that?

Anyway! From reading your posts on other short story entries, I gather that you're often struggling against the 1500 word limit. In an effort to help you in that area, I think one of the things you should try and focus on is watching out for those adjectives/adverbs. Don't fret though, this is a common issue, and any writer who says that they don't have it or have evolved beyond it I would probably call a liar. It's natural when you're in the heat of creative brilliance and converting those images in your head into text to want to clarify every minute detail with that extra word to give it that little extra life. The skill comes when you go over the work afterwards and can see which ones you then need to cut out. As a few examples:
"An allayed smile" --I didn't know what allayed meant as I'm a bit of a simpleton when it comes to half the dictionary, but even knowing what it means now, the act of smiling when frightened shows us enough to know that he's calming down.
"Occasionally the fluttering flame in the lantern crackled" --the fact that the flame's fluttering doesn't add any mystique or mood to the scene for me. After all, fluttering tends to be what flames do.
"his right hand anxiously gripping the mace on his belt." --by this stage you've relayed enough of his emotional state that merely stating he gripped his mace shows us he's anxious without the need to say so.
"but the dusky far end of the corridor seemed too baleful to reach" --Again here, the setting is already clear so you don't need to tell us it's dusky.
"dwelling even in the gloomy corridor."--Getting a real sense of foreboding from this dusky, gloomy, corridor! It seems to be in a crepulscular state!
"and the petite lantern in the passageway did little to ward off the chill" --You already mentioned that the lantern was small, and on this occasion the reminer is actually detracting from the drama. The lantern would be more powerful were it big and unable to ward off the chill. That's not to suggest you should turn it into a big lantern! This late in the story there's no need to clarify its size, and honestly, the size of any lantern is so irrelevant in the grander scope of things that there's no real need to do it earlier either.

Modifiers aside, I thought you had a really nice setting in this piece. I had a clear image of the town, the creeping mists, the wall. In fact, I never noticed it on the initial read, but on the thorough one I just did for this feedback your description was so good that I could quite clearly see myself walking around it... which led to a minor blip in the plot...

As I understand it, the guy is a watchman for the town, but his station is in a secluded corridor within the wall which has no windows and a rope dangling down from a bell tower. This is by far and wide the most amazing watchman's post I've ever imagined! Even when he goes up onto the ramparts he still can't see anything because the rooftops of the nearby buildings are blocking his line of sight. And the one place he can get a half decent view from hasn't got any access point, leaving him to have to scale the outer wall by protruding bricks!
Please please don't think me being cruel here--because it's so not the intention--but I'm laughing so hard right now it hurts. I have this image in my head of the whole town burning down while he's stood in his corridor holding his rope wondering whether he should ever pull it for fear of pissing all the townsfolk off! This is the most amazing thing ever. I so wish I had this job myself.

Right... calming down... calming down. <deep breaths>

Ah...!

So yea, there's probably a bit of work to do on the location. If it's any consolation, I never picked up on any of that in my initial read-through--in fact I think I pictured them in an alley by the wall rather than an indoor corridor, which may have been a result of that allayed word and makes the above interpretation even more awesome. That just goes to show how relevant setting is in the grand scope of things. At the end of the day it is just a backdrop, and when the story starts moving from one location to the next I sort of zone out into autopilot where I'm reading the words but not properly taking them in, because the pretty scenery isn't what I'm interested in if you've done the characters/plot well. And the plot here is interesting.

What I'd suggest would be to relocate the scene up in the bell tower. You can have the lanterns, you can inject the fear in from the stairwell--mist creeping up the steps. When his partner leaves you could maybe throw in a sentence of the darkened land outside the town, then have the shrieks turn his attention inwards to where he sees the eerie movements. Maybe even have the mist situated inside the town but not outside. Something's amiss! And then if you want to have that little extra drama you could still have him climb out and up onto the tower's roof to get that better view of a hidden courtyard or something where he suspects the sinister villain lurks. All that's up to you.
The point is that by grounding the story into one location you're freeing up hundreds of words that were used to describe mundane travelling and can instead focus them into the mist which is ultimately the source of the fear you're trying to create.

In terms of typos or sentences that tripped me up I have:
"It didn’t tell of marauding warriors approaching the gates, nor it rang because of a fight erupting between inebriated peasants."
I think you can remove the bit in bold. If you keep it, there's a word missing, but it's excess information as we know that it's ringing because you've told us in the previous sentence. Apart from that glitch, I thought this was a nicely crafted opener that gave enough intrigue to make me want to read on.

The man wearing the boots sliced through an eerie, waist-high mist roused by the cool of the night from the thundering waters of the River Thundring which parted the town bearing the same name.
This went on just slightly too long. Maybe split it into two sentences. Bring the mist and time of day out into their own bit and contrast the sound of the man's boots against the river's crashes to naturally drop in that setting exposition. Loved the word clop to describe the sound by the way!

"He heaved no sigh of relieve"
Relief.
but the storm of complaints in the event of a false alarm stayed his hand.
For the record, two typos in 1500 words is pretty damn good by yourself. It took me a good few years to get them down to that level, and even now I've still not managed to beat them entirely.

This jittery watch continued for many moments
Something about many moments doesn't quite gel with me. It feels somewhat melodramatic: "He put his hand to his chin and pondered over the short story not for a moment... but many moments." I'd consider switching it up to 'a good while'.

"Breas flinched awake from his slumber when the cat decided to leave him."
Ignoring the flinch, I wasn't sure how the cat leaving woke him up. Maybe have the cat's squeal be what abruptly wakes him, but not have the cat be there. That way his seeing it again holds more power. Heck, why not even have its death squeal be what wakes him up and build the tension as he goes to discover where it came from culminating in locating the body right before the murders about to happen to him.

Food for thought, anyway. Since it's almost 1am so I think I'll leave it at that. I hope you found this useful and my apologies if any part came off harsh. It certainly wasn't intended and I'm in a bit of a funny mood tonight. Also remember that my suggestions are just just that and not necessarily correct. Overall I found the writing was clear and I enjoyed the story. You've got a really vivid imagination, so keep at it because whatever you're doing is working!
« Last Edit: June 05, 2015, 01:04:40 AM by D_Bates »
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Offline Lady Ty

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Re: [Apr 2015] - Werewolf, Vampire, Girl - Plot Twist! - Critique Thread
« Reply #29 on: June 05, 2015, 03:36:09 AM »

And @Raptori, The venerable Lady Ty's link confirmed my suspicion that seagrasses are mostly coastal things in shallow waters (because I guess grass needs a good source of sunlight). I got the impression your dragons were a lot deeper out into sea, what with giant chasms and having to draw forth flames in order to see through the gloom on top of large fishing vessels (though I guess fishermen do trawl coastal regions too).

So if you were going to adopt these dragons (which are really cool) into a bigger thing, I'd still suggest dropping that. But then you wouldn't be hiding information for a twist in such a piece either, so a lot of those confusions that hit me (and I admit I was really tired at the time I read it) would probably not have come about due to a grander scope on the region.

David, I think being called 'venerable' made my day and I am glad my family won't read this because I would never be able to live it down. ;D ;D

Yes, in reality sea grass meadows need some degree of light for photo synthesis.  The reason I made comment on this minor detail was that primarily this is a fantasy story. Within this genre I believe that, with care, descriptive parameters may allow the expression of a real world concept, without adhering strictly to established detail.  If there are glorious water dragons, why should there not also be seagrass flourishing? Even better in actual ‘meadows’?

The landscape as described allowed me to picture the scene perfectly and did not jar in any way.  I was caught up completely in the dragon’s flight and race over his ‘land’.  I believe this is where you and I differ in our expectations and that makes for good discussion and hopefully provides variety of views for the writers.

I hope @Raptori and @Saurus pursue this particular theme further as it was an intriguing tale. The sea has many mysteries still  providing limitless opportunity for imagination. Recently salt lakes have been discovered at the bottom of oceans and mini eco systems subsisting on methane with new and strange life forms. One glorious day my lifelong wish may be realised and they announce “Here be Dragons” . ;D
“This is the problem with even lesser demons. They come to your doorstep in velvet coats and polished shoes. They tip their hats and smile and demonstrate good table manners. They never show you their tails.” 
Leigh Bardugo, The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic