The third-person-distant point of view is the fly-on-the-wall or mouse-in-the-corner perspective in which references to all characters use a name, a title, or one of the pronouns he, she, him, her, his, and hers. Other than in dialogue, you will never find the first-person pronouns I, me, my, we, or our. As an observer seeing the whole picture, you can reveal actions and conditions that may be unknown to the main character.
Seeing disaster on the open seas, an observer might describe the ship captain’s plight this way:
The wave crashed over the railing and into the hold, engulfing the prayers of the men below. The captain locked his arms around the mast post, crying for everyone to hang on, but his men heard only the roaring seas.
- Stay Where You Are.
The most intimate, heart-gripping position is with the main character, but an observer has the advantage of describing more than what one character sees. If you choose that position, stay there, and avoid seeing or knowing anything outside your viewpoint. Don’t get into the minds of your characters.