Monday, April 18, 2011
O is for Objective
objective, being the object of perception or thought; belonging to the object of thought rather than to the thinking subject. Adjective.
(As opposed to the noun objective -- goal, target).
Two my favorite short story authors are Ernest Hemingway and Raymond Carver. Both used a sparse and minimalistic style. They shared only details that were relevant to the story. Neither painted a picture with his words; rather, they gave me, the reader, an outline and let me fill in the rest. I liked that they didn't tell me what to think about the characters and their situations. I had to construct my own meaning and understanding.
Early in college, when I started writing fiction, I tried to emulate their style. I pretended I was a fly on a wall capturing events as they unfolded. I could describe what people said, what motions people made, and what color the room was, but I couldn't describe what someone was thinking. I tried to be as objective as possible--besides, who was I to tell a reader what to think?
I hope that this tactic helped me develop as a writer--by limiting myself to what can be observed, objectively, I had to think about the actions that moved my characters and story along.
But it's so much more fun--both as a writer and as a reader--to go inside a character's head. As I've grown more confident, I've let the narrator carry more of the load. By using third-person point-of-view, I can stay somewhat detached; but by allowing that narrator to be limited omniscient, I can go into the main character's head. I want to understand what she is thinking about and how she is processing that information. I want to be right there with her as she faces and (hopefully) overcomes challenges. Subjectivity is much more colorful than objectivity.