I finally managed to do two things today that I've been trying to do for several years now. I've had the idea for a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast in my head for several years, and had finally gotten enough of the world-building details worked out (geography, economy and politics, character names) last year that I was able to write the first chapter. I lacked only two important things: a real title (I had a working title of "The Next Day" which I only chose because I hated the other alternatives even more) and a fair idea of exactly how it was going to end.
(Okay, if you're confused how someone could want to retell a well-known fairy tale and not know the ending, I'll take some pity on you. My original idea for the story came about because the traditional ending has never set well with me, and even though Robin McKinley's fantastic versions of the story make progress towards fixing those problems, they don't go far enough. To me, the story really gets started once the Beast is turned back into a human. That's a fundamental change in his relationship with Beauty. And someone that powerful/rich doesn't go into a major spell like that without leaving a power vacuum in the surrounding lands; what about that? Nobody I'm aware of even attempts to address those implications, which to me makes the story less satisfying; I want the stories I read to give me some insight about me in particular and humanity in general, and the fairy tale is in the end a bit of wish fulfillment fluff.)
Thanks to the fact that I had to sit in traffic coming home from downtown Seattle today, I finally got jogged onto the right train of thought to solve the ending problem. I'd had all of the elements and ingredients for some time and even had a gut instinct as to the "correct" outcome for my story, but I'd never been happy with that ending because I didn't know why it was correct. Now I do — and now that I do it's clearly the only correct ending for the way I've set the story up.
Tonight, once I pulled out my laptop and wrote up my notes on the new ending, working out the minor logistics problems I encountered, I forced myself to apply that same sense of "Eureka!" to the naming problem. Words mean things, dammit, and names are special words. I find it nearly impossible to write without the correct names of things to work with; likewise, once I know the right names, the characters and stories come alive.
Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I am proud to introduce to you the novel-in-writing once known as "The Next Day" but now called "Truth and Beauty."