I know everyone has a different way of giving advice on this, but my way of putting it is this;
Story driven is where you can switch out the characters, and the story -along with the lesson or moral- remains the same. Of course this may not be true in some cases, but to elaborate on it;
When you tell a STORY, you’re telling it (most likely) for the purpose of its lesson/moral, or the inspiring actions that come from that story.
For example, we all remember the story of Little Red Riding Hood or Humpty Dumpty. If you really think about it, how important are the characters to the story? Of course physically they make more sense (Humpty Dumpty is an egg, Riding Hood is a young girl) but we could honestly switch them out with another character with another name, and the morals of the story remain the same. The lesson we learn from Red’s story is not to trust/talk to strangers, while Humpty Dumpty is obviously not to sit on walls XD We could learn the very same lesson with any other characters in their place, but especially in Riding Hood’s case. Any young girl or even a young boy would do.
Character driven novels, or character driven stories, are stories where the characters are responsible for how the novel plays out. There are far more examples of character driven stories, such as;
Star Wars (Luke Skywalker’s persistence in keeping hope alive, and his desire to turn his father back to the light is what pushes him to eventually do so)
Hunger Games (It’s all Katniss’ fault for being a smartass)
In these stories, if you switched the characters with anyone else, you wouldn’t get the same story.
Sherlock Holmes would certainly win the Hunger Games by his intelligence, but there wouldn’t be any romance subplot that ends up spiraling into the fiasco that we ended up with by Mockingjay. (Let’s be real here)
And yeah, you could throw Neo (The Matrix) into Star Wars, but then we lose that arc of staying true to one’s self even when tempted by darkness; in the gentle and modest manner Luke does. Yeah, Neo could have been a major tool in destroying the Empire, but then Star Wars wouldn’t be anything like it is.
Stories and characters go hand in hand. After all, they’re meant to tie together for this very reason; to tell a story. They’re inseparable.
Those are the differences between Character driven novels and Story driven novels, presented in a long post by; me.
I hope this was helpful for those of you who needed it, and if not, then I hope I at least inspired you or gave you a good read.
As always, I want to help others in any way I can, and I’m just another writer on Reddit giving my piece, asked for it or not, it’s here for anyone who I’ll take it.
Thank you for reading, and I hope it helps someone!
Edit: Removal of excessive words, Spelling errors
Source: reddit post