Something I never realised about choosing a title for your novel

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.

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