Third Person Objective Definition: A “narrator” narrates the story, using “he”, “she”, “it”, and “they” pronouns. This “narrator” can only narrate the characters’ external actions—anything they express or do. Some people just call this third person. It’s also called third person dramatic.
Out of the three third person point of views, third person objective is the uncommon one in modern fiction. The most popular example of third person objective is Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway.
This POV is what people describe as “fly-on-the-wall”, as the narrator describes what the characters are doing, as if observing them. The narrator gives an objective (hence why it’s called objective POV), neutral, unbiased perspective of the story. The narrator cannot give his or her interpretation of the characters’ intents and unspoken opinions. This narrator can’t even know the characters’ inner feelings or thoughts.
For objective POV, you have to show. The narrator can’t tell the reader that John is sad, happy, angry, or whatever. You have to show how John is feeling, just as the narrator can’t tell us that Jane is thinking happy or bad thoughts toward another character. It all has to be shown.
If your novel’s plot is driven by not knowing the character’s intentions, then objective POV could work, especially if writing mystery, thriller, or suspense. Concealing feelings and thoughts can make a plot more interesting.
Objective POV is also all action. That’s why it’s sometimes called dramatic POV. After all, you can’t stop to talk or interpret feelings and thoughts, so the action has no interruptions. If your story involves a lot of action, objective POV might work too.
If you want your novel to have multiple interpretations and leave the reader still guessing at the end, maybe give this POV a try.
Third person objective doesn’t go inside any of the characters’ heads or reveal anybody’s feelings or thoughts. This causes distances between the characters and the reader. If your novel is character-driven, then this is not the best POV to use. Objective POV is the uncommon third person POV because readers want to connect with characters, and most modern fiction relies on the character/reader relationship.
This POV also involves a lot more work and pressure on the author. Without the character’s thoughts or feelings, you have to work more to convey all that needs to be communicated. Conveying information from the character’s internal actions makes writing so much easier.
Problems That Occur When Writing in Third Person Objective Person:
Voice can easily become dry when writing in objective POV. Writing in the perspective of a character can spice up your writing. Since objective POV is supposed to be neutral and unbiased, it can kill a writer’s voice.
Another problem is clear character motivation. In general, with all POVs, writers struggle to show what motivates their characters. Without clear motivation, the story won’t make sense. Showing motivation is easier in third person omniscient and limited (and especially first person) since the characters’ thoughts can tell us what motivates them. We don’t get that with objective POV. If you’re writing in objective, you will have to work harder to make sure character motivation is clear.