1. deadrats
    Online

    deadrats Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2016
    Messages:
    641
    Likes Received:
    294

    Character's name as title

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by deadrats, Sep 9, 2016.

    When is it a good idea to use a character's name as the title of your story? We've all seen this done from popular novels to short stories in The New Yorker. Why would an author chose to use a character's name as the title? What sort of led them to that do you think? Is it a smart decision? Or when is it a smart decision? I haven't done this, personally, because I can't really tell if it would be appropriate for my work. But sometimes I get stuck on titles and something like this sure would make things easier. What do you guys think?
     
  2. Romana
    Offline

    Romana Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2016
    Messages:
    57
    Likes Received:
    46
    i have one short story named after a character, because the character is a genetic engineering project who motivates the actions of the other characters in the story. She is a main character, but not the protagonist.
    I have one novel named after a character, because that was how I started it. It's a name of a book in the bible, too, which is why I wanted to use it. In this case, the titular character is the heroine, but not the narrator.
    I think it's a smart decision as long as the name works, and even if it doesn't "work," if the titular character is distinctive enough, you can make the title work.
    Personally, I wouldn't title a work after the narrator, because that makes the narrator seem really egotistical.
     
  3. Wolf Daemon
    Offline

    Wolf Daemon Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2016
    Messages:
    155
    Likes Received:
    53
    Location:
    Terra
    I much prefer to name the book after the general plot of the book. So I don't think I'd ever name a book after the MC, just seems lack luster to me and doesn't really draw people in as much as other titles may.
     
  4. Aaron Smith
    Offline

    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2013
    Messages:
    721
    Likes Received:
    401
    It's uncreative. The 2015 movie Ex Machina is a story about an ingenious inventor, his robot Ava, and a man assigned to test if this robot can pass the Turing test. The obvious alternative title for this movie would be Ava, right? But what does that tell us about the story, other than there is a character involved named Ava? Absolutely nothing. Therefore I think Ex Machina (from the Greek "Deus Ex Machina", literally "god from the machine") is a great title because it describes the central themes of the movie (creation, invention, machines/the robot).

    In my opinion, the title of a piece of work should always reflect the plot somehow.
     
    Wolf Daemon likes this.
  5. 123456789
    Online

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    6,347
    Likes Received:
    3,092
    Sorry, Aaron.

    Lolita
    Romeo and Juliet
    Frankenstein
    Moby Dick
    Lassie
    Cyrano De Bergerac
    Don Quixote
    Ana Karenina
    Dracula
     
    KaTrian, jannert and peachalulu like this.
  6. Aaron Smith
    Offline

    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2013
    Messages:
    721
    Likes Received:
    401
    Example of authority is not example of quality.
     
    izzybot and Wolf Daemon like this.
  7. Wolf Daemon
    Offline

    Wolf Daemon Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2016
    Messages:
    155
    Likes Received:
    53
    Location:
    Terra
    Romeo and Juliet was just terrible, as for the rest it doesn't really prove any point because none of the books have a good title that isn't a name. Yeah people have done it in the past but it's a cop out
     
  8. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,123
    Likes Received:
    5,322
    Location:
    California, US
    In this case, however, we except for Lassie those are well regarded as quality works. Also, Justine, by Lawrence Durrell, the first of his Alexandria Quartet, which is also excellent.

    Of course, it is silly to pretend that whether the title is a character's name affects the quality of a book. The work will be good or bad on its own merits.
     
    deadrats likes this.
  9. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,123
    Likes Received:
    5,322
    Location:
    California, US
    This is nonsense. It's no more a cop out than any other title. People may have different preferences for types of titles, but the need to objectively justify a personal preference says more about you than the book titles. Just be content to say you don't like it and leave it at that.
     
    deadrats, jannert and izzybot like this.
  10. Aaron Smith
    Offline

    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2013
    Messages:
    721
    Likes Received:
    401
    I think you misinterpreted what I said. I haven't read any of the works, except for maybe 100 pages of Lolita, which was frankly pretty boring. They are excellent works with shitty titles.

    If you, as a new author, came out today with a book that was simply called "Emma" or similar, you would need to market your book quite well for it be noticed.
     
    Wolf Daemon likes this.
  11. 123456789
    Online

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    6,347
    Likes Received:
    3,092
    What concerns me is that @Aaron Smith used a movie title for his one example. Doesn't anyone ever read anymore?
    I imagine @Wolf Daemon must be rolling in his grave...
     
    deadrats likes this.
  12. Aaron Smith
    Offline

    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2013
    Messages:
    721
    Likes Received:
    401
    I can mention a book if you want. Visual media is underrated as inspiration for writing.
     
    Wolf Daemon likes this.
  13. Spencer1990
    Online

    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2016
    Messages:
    938
    Likes Received:
    1,074
    This whole debate is silly. It's not a cop-out for using a character's name for a title if that title best fits the work. I'll use Lolita as an example since it's already been used. Humbert Humbert is infatuated with Lolita. she is his muse, his world; he goes to great lengths to get his prize. What would have been a better title for that novel? It perfectly encompasses everything that drives Humbert throughout the novel.

    That said, there is no right way to title a work. As long as it adds to the overall product (as Lolita certainly does). To say that one way is wrong and another is right is ridiculous.
     
  14. Wolf Daemon
    Offline

    Wolf Daemon Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2016
    Messages:
    155
    Likes Received:
    53
    Location:
    Terra
    Naming a book after a main character IS definitely a cop out of having to create an actual title. Sure a book may be good or bad based on who wrote it but the title is supposed to draw people in, I doubt many people will pick up a book titles "Beth" or "James". When the author could create an ingenious title like "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" which defines what the general underlying plot is and will make people interested in what makes it so.
     
  15. Aaron Smith
    Offline

    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2013
    Messages:
    721
    Likes Received:
    401
    Uh, isn't the name of "Lolita" actually Dolores?
     
    Wolf Daemon likes this.
  16. Spencer1990
    Online

    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2016
    Messages:
    938
    Likes Received:
    1,074
    Lolita is Humbert's somewhat secret nickname for Dolores. Derived from what her mother calls her: Lo.

    ETA: And thank you for pointing that out because it makes the title even more well-suited for the novel.
     
    Tenderiser and deadrats like this.
  17. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,123
    Likes Received:
    5,322
    Location:
    California, US
    That's a great title from Heinlein. PK Dick also came up with great titles. However, it is empirically demonstrable that plenty of people will read books with character names as the title, so your argument isn't compelling. It's just a personal opinion.
     
    deadrats likes this.
  18. Aaron Smith
    Offline

    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2013
    Messages:
    721
    Likes Received:
    401
    Lolita is a pretty bad example in this case then. It would only be a valid example if the title of the book was "Dolores".
     
    Wolf Daemon likes this.
  19. Spencer1990
    Online

    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2016
    Messages:
    938
    Likes Received:
    1,074
    A nickname is, by definition, a name. I think it's actually a pretty good example. The narrative is first person from Humbert's perspective. He thinks of her as Lolita. But you're telling me it's not a valid example based on a book you haven't read. So I'm not sure how you're qualified to make that judgement. :confused:
     
    deadrats and izzybot like this.
  20. Aaron Smith
    Offline

    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2013
    Messages:
    721
    Likes Received:
    401
    I read some of it. It's a pretty overrated book from what I've seen.

    The thing is, a name like Emma, John, or Jim carries no face value. However, Lolita is a compound of intimacy, sex, but also distance and lifelessness. So it's still not really comparable.
     
    Wolf Daemon likes this.
  21. izzybot
    Offline

    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Messages:
    867
    Likes Received:
    957
    Location:
    SC, USA
    Moving goalposts a bit, there.

    IMO Lolita is actually a great example of character name as title done well, and genuinely contributing. Her name is the title because he's obsessed with her, and it's not even her real name - he's obsessed not with her, but with his idea of her. I think that's one very fitting.

    Though in general I'm not into names as titles. I don't think they usually add anything and aren't that interesting or memorable to me, outside of the classics which are obviously burned into my brain regardless of how interesting I think the title is. It doesn't mean there aren't great works that do it, it's just not my bag and I'm not going to do it myself. I'd rather come up with an interesting title that I think will grab people's attention.
     
    deadrats, peachalulu and Spencer1990 like this.
  22. Wolf Daemon
    Offline

    Wolf Daemon Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2016
    Messages:
    155
    Likes Received:
    53
    Location:
    Terra
    So far I have heard no good arguments for why a name should be the title of a book. The people who say it's a cop out like me and others have stated why it is so but all we're getting is "it's an opinion" and no real argument against it so it's rather useless to argue unless you have a point to make.
     
  23. Wolf Daemon
    Offline

    Wolf Daemon Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2016
    Messages:
    155
    Likes Received:
    53
    Location:
    Terra
    Which makes it a bad example.
     
  24. Spencer1990
    Online

    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2016
    Messages:
    938
    Likes Received:
    1,074
    Lolita is that name we, as readers, are meant to think of when we think about Dolores. That is her name, that is the name given to her by the narrator. For all intents and purposes, it is her name. Her name works well as the title for the reasons stated above. You're holding onto a thin argument for the sake of sticking to some ridiculous notion that there are such things as "dos" and "don'ts" in writing. There are none. Thinking one way is better than another is, as you said, a matter of opinion. You're saying your opinion is right and the others are wrong. That, friend, is silly.

    You told people not to argue unless they have a valid point. Please show me a point you've made that is NOT opinion, and therefore, more valid than another point.

    If you read the thread objectively, you'd see that there have been arguments made on BOTH sides which amount to nothing more than opinion. Because writing is about subjectivity and opinion. That's it. There aren't any hard and fast rules on titling. The point that you've ignored is that a name CAN be a good title. It can ALSO be a less than wise choice. You seem to be ignoring the fact that your argument is not more fact than anyone else's.
     
    deadrats and izzybot like this.
  25. izzybot
    Offline

    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Messages:
    867
    Likes Received:
    957
    Location:
    SC, USA
    ... No? It's a book about obsession. Making the 'object' of the narrator's obsession the title makes sense. Dehumanizing said 'object' by not even using her real name, but the name the obsessor assigns her, reinforces the inherent dehumanization in that kind of obsession. It's still a name - it's the name he calls her, in popular culture it's the name she's ultimately remembered by. The fact that it's not her actual name is kind of the point.

    You're probably just going to reassert that it's not a good example without explaining your position though, so.
     
    deadrats and Spencer1990 like this.

Share This Page