Evolution of a novel

Last night, I came up with a title for my new book. It’s nearly done, but had a very long nascency.

I started working on this story in June 2004, before my first novel was published.  Many years before, I had read the Haitian folktale The Magic Orange Tree and loved it. Early in 2004, I decided that I wanted to write a story for my daughter, one that celebrated her Trinidadian heritage and had a strong female lead, and I decided that a rewrite of The Magic Orange Tree was in order.

I had no title, so I labeled it with the protagonist’s name, Giselle, and started taking notes. By November, I had written a full draft, 22 chapters under a new title, The Green Woman. Later I went for a more epic-feeling title, The Green Woman, The White Witch and the Magic Orange Tree. The main character’s name was changed to Corinne. But in December, I put it away because I couldn’t figure out a way to make the story work.

A couple of years later (I don’t remember the year), I picked it up again, re-read the manuscript and made some notes, but I still didn’t have a feel for the direction of the story.  Then in March 2008, I picked it up again. This time, I renamed the main character Ever to further add to the storybook feel. I re-titled it with a spin on the heroine’s new name. (I’m not saying what it is, because I love that title, and plan to use it for something else.) But in October, 2008, I thought the name didn’t quite fit, and asked friends to vote on names for the main character. Most preferred Corinne, and truthfully I liked it better because it reminded me of the Spanish verb “correr” a good fit for a story that begins: “Corinne ran…” I nixed the new title and decided not to choose one until I had finished another draft.

I finished the draft in January 2009, and did the F1rst Pages writing workshop, which opened up entire worlds for me for how the story should go. I still didn’t have the ending quite right, or the direction and since January, I have gone from “Untitled” to The Other Half to How the Trouble Started and back to “Untitled. But finally last night I came up with the ending that feels just right, and a title came with it.


As soon as I have the ending polished, I’m going to get it proofread, and then send it to my agent. So what is the final title? After 5 years of off-and-on work, I’m still too nervous to say.