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Writing Asian Characters
Thu Jun 20, 2019 3:49 am
I was wondering if anyone could give me some help with non-offensive descriptors for an east Asian character I plan to write. I was thinking probably Japanese, maybe something like this:
Obviously I know "yellow" skin or "almond" eyes are problematic and I'd never want to be offensive -- but he's also not-quite-brown and I'm not sure how to respectfully describe him.
Any help would be really appreciated!
Thu Jun 20, 2019 6:22 am
A lot of the times if you have a character who is hard to describe by appearance in terms of race, it is actually safe to state their race or the region from which they appear to be from. Let's say your MC meets a guy from... idk... Saudi Arabia. "The man appeared to be from the middle east, with dark, sunburnt skin and a thick Arabic accent..."
For Asian characters, its no different really. Lets say your mc meets a guy from Japan. "He had an Asiatic look to him, his black hair spiky and short, and his eyes, like slits, which almost seemed to denote some kind of innate intuition; and his manner was very graceful and honourable, as was, of which, probably the same in his culture, as I have heard."
I know i probs just described a really stereotypical asian guy, but you are the writer of your story and your characters, so spice it up! You can play around with describing his mannerisms, facial expressions, etc. Another thing to remember is that the race of the character can often be inferred by their name. Take the name Cheng Zhi. He's obviously an African-American, right? No! He's Chinese!
Anyways, that's my long way of saying don't worry about it.
Hope this helps.
Ps: Those Asian guys in the pictures are kinda hot. I just have to say.
"The dead look so terribly dead when they're dead."
- Larry Darrell,
The Razor's Edge
Thu Jun 20, 2019 8:46 am
Asian here (but not East Asian).
As long as you're not deliberately being derogatory, any clear and meaningful description of a person's appearance goes. There's no harm in using the word 'monolids' to describe East Asian eye features. There's no harm in referring to the yellowish pale or slightly brown or dark brown undertones of the skin, just don't use childish adjectives like 'milky' or something. There's nothing wrong with referring to the slight patchiness of the beard and how it's concentrated near the chin and not so much on the sides in a lot of East Asian men. There's nothing wrong as long as you're not being insensitive. Every type of people have a certain set of characteristic features of their own, I think there's beauty in that, and I think there's nothing offensive in referring to these features directly. Let's not over-complicate how we describe each other, just be respectful and clear. For instance, here's how I would describe a female Korean character if I had to:
"She had high cheekbones, long ink-black hair that ran down the back of her overcoat, and beautiful monolid eyes that lit up every time she smiled or laughed. Her Seoul accent had a cheerful ring to it, which would often come as a surprise because she was usually very reserved and kept to herself."
I know that's a bit extra, but you know what I mean, lel.
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Sat Jun 22, 2019 12:05 am
! I really appreciate it!
I forgot to mention in my post but this is for a fantasy world, where the country is based loosely after east Asian appearances and culture, but there is no proper "Asia" in the world for me to be able to just explicitly say that's where he's from, so I was struggling a bit to think of how to describe him. But you both gave me helpful things to think about in terms of describing him and I really appreciate the help! <3
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