Finally finished the first full draft of Act I of The Manga Flute over the weekend. Much last-minute trimming. When I’d assembled all the individual scenes and got them formatted and then read through the whole thing, three of the dialogue scenes seemed too long. This isn’t uncommon; I’ve found it’s better not to bother trying very hard to trim a scene to its best length until I’ve got enough of the story written to get a sense of what the overall pacing and rhythm is like, as what happens in every scene can change how the pacing feels in all the following scenes.
Even so, I was startled at how really overlong the early scene between Tamino and Papageno (after Papageno’s entrance song and before Tamino’s portrait song) was. I managed to trim it by a full third, and it may need a little more. There’s a lot of ground to cover in that scene, though. It would be lovely if I could knock on Mr. Mozart’s grave and ask him for some music for a light, comic, back-and-forth duet for Tamino and Papageno that I could use to highlight the differences between them and that I could place right in the middle of that scene to break up the stretch of spoken dialogue. But I can’t. So I need to keep the scene as brisk and short as I can make it without losing its fun.
The title of the piece is now back to The Manga Flute. I had meant that as a working title, not a serious suggestion about what to call the finished production. It seems kind of silly and self-referential to me. But I have been told by several people that the title is getting a lot of positive reactions and stirring up a lot of interest, so I’ve been persuaded to let it be the final title. Part of collaborating with others is always picking the right battles to lose, and it’s a wonderful thing to have a title that makes people think, hey, that sounds like the sort of thing that I want to see, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this was the right battle to concede without much of a fight. The title that I had decided on was Tamino’s Magic Flute, because — to my ear, anyway — it sounds like what the title could have been if the story really had started out as a manga or anime. But if The Manga Flute makes more people think that this sounds like a fun show that’ll be good to bring the whole family to, then it’s a better title. I hope so, anyway.