I've taken quite a bit of your time, and so will try a quick summation here.
First, Nate, your little pacing exercise is freaking great. I will absolutely do this, after a full draft is in place. Anytime I can make a spreadsheet and a graph I get enthused. Again, this is just great, one of the best writing exercises I have ever encountered.
And yes, each scene needs a little punch, needs a point. I think in most of them it's in there somewhere, buried in what Celtic correctly notes as blah blah blah. And I do have a larger thematic and emotional architecture; the thing, as I imagine it, is pretty ambitious. Once this starts to take place, and it hasn't yet, which is part of the problem, I think it will help inform some of these prepatory scenes, tightening them up.
Anyway, most of what I've written in the past has been in an academic setting, that is, has been an assignment. And so, for these things, I gave myself a little assignment--by the end of the day, get this part readable, load into indie talk, and just hit post. Then I got a little encouragement, and then did another piece. So this forum is almost certainly responsible for my getting this far.
Now, I think, I'm on my own.
Let me talk a little about this sequence. Beginning on page 12.
The first scene is Leopold scheming to hire Bach. There is the little running joke about Handel, getting rich in London, and it ends with Leopold saying, "not, I believe, him." To most of his contemporaries, Bach was by far the premier keyboard virtuoso, but was considered a second rate composer, well behind Handel and his friend Telemann. But here we see Leopold seeing in Bach what we see. The dialogue here seems better. And it is a half a page.
The next scene. The heart of this story will be the relationship between Prince Leopold and Bach. So this scene is pivotal--Boy meets Girl. Also Bach compliments Marchand who to everyone else the butt of a joke. And the phrase about Marchand's music being "well and proper," comes from Bach's obituary, written, some fifty years later, by young Carl Philipp. It says something about Sebastian. And again, a quarter page.
The next scene, the actual job offer, is again pivotal. I think I stole this from the last episode of season 4 of The West Wing, the last one written by Aaron Sorkin, where Bartlet is told about Zoey's kidnapping from outside the room, through a glass door, with no dialogue. I do the same thing here. It may or may not work, but it is quick.
The next scene. The resignation. Nate is right about the guard. This breaks the scene, and I think it would get a laugh to just have him give a little facial expression, probably only to himself, where he thinks about it. Then Wilhelm Ernst doesn't have to slam the table.
On the first pass at this scene, I had Wilhelm Ernst tearing up paper, slamming his fist, shouting things like "I forbid it!" etc. Then I thought "imperial storm trooper" and had him say, quietly, "You may not resign. You are not released. I have spoken." To the extent this is better (and I think it is) it is Nate and Mara.
And a word about the Ernsts. I thought about just calling them Wilhelm and August, but in the literature it is always Wilhelm Ernst and Ernst August, so I stuck with this. But Celtic experienced some Ernst fatigue, and I thought this might happen, and so for the next reader I think they will just be Wilhelm and August.
Then the jail scene. This has, I think, a fun tone, and again, the dialogue is better. The bit with the calendar is iffy, setting up a way to show time passage in the next month, but it probably doesn't need to be here. But otherwise. . . And, less than a page.
Anyway, these three pages seem to have some life. They may be the only part that survives intact. It may have taken forty pages to get these three, and it may take forty more to get another three. So it goes.
Anyway. I noticed, by the way, in this Keep & Share site I've been using (I like how it loads fast and clean, unlike google docs which is a little clunky) that some of these have been viewed 50-plus times. Most of these are probably just open and close, but it still freaks me out a little, and I will probably just kill these links, ending this chapter.
It's been fun, but a little embarsssing. I am a thoroughly post-modern man, in that, whenever I re-read something I have written that has a lot of "I"s in it, I ask that I, "who are you?" To which that I responds, "who are you?" To which I respond, "just shut up." To which the first I responds, "you shut up." And on and on. Anyway.
Anyway, You are all released, lol.
And, and I hate to be a broken record, but . . . Thank you .
Now let's talk about the cat.