One of my absolute favourite things about writing is choosing a title for a new novel. (My other love is naming characters and places.) In fact, I love coming up with titles so much that I’ve realised that the plots for all of my stories have been inspired by me thinking up a title I really like first. Once I have a title I’m excited about, I then think about the plot of a book with that title. Weird, I know, but that is how it works for me.
Something that I never realised about choosing a title for your character driven novel is that there are really two kinds of titles – those that work for theme driven stories and those that work for identity driven stories. My stories are all really about the character’s identity – Diary of a Penguin-napper, Ruby Marvellous, and Double Felix. All of these titles give hints to the identity of the protagonist.
I recently came across these examples on well-storied.com that illustrate the difference between the two beautifully:
CHARACTER-DRIVEN NOVEL TITLES (THEME):
- Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion by Jane Austen
- If I Stay by Gayle Forman
- Atonement by Ian McEwan
- Voices by Ursula Le Guin
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
- Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
CHARACTER-DRIVEN NOVEL TITLES (PROTAGONIST’S NAME OR IDENTITY):
- Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
- The Martian by Andy Weir
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Carrie by Stephen King
- The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
- Finniken of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
- Life of Pi by Yann Martel
- Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
- The Healer’s Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson
See the difference? Of course, not every character driven story will fit this mold and that is totally okay too. A well-written story wins every time – a great title just helps attract readers to it. And don’t panic if you don’t have a character driven story and instead have a story that is largely drive by plot. Kristen at well-storied.com has you covered too. Read her post here.