Is this an appropriate character description?

sonder_siri

Registered
Joined
Dec 7, 2021
Messages
32
Reaction score
34
Age
19
My secondary protagonist in my current book shares POV with the main character. His character has features of Asian descent because he's a character inspired by one of my friends from Okinawa. But, I'm not sure how to best describe the character's features, especially since many of the characters in my book have unrealistic eye and hair colors. I've been stumped on how to describe his skin color in particular. In my current draft, I have described it as: "He finally turns towards her, and his eyes meet hers. She stifles a gasp, they are golden. She knows this from seeing him before, but they are more detailed this close. Brighter in the light. He looks young, her age maybe, with tawny skin and almond eyes."

Is this an appropriate description?

Edit: I want to say thank you to everyone who has responded to this. All of the articles and feedback have been so helpful. I will keep doing my best to educate myself. In both run-on sentences and character descriptions.
 
Last edited:

Unimportant

No COVID yet. Still masking.
Staff member
Moderator
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 8, 2005
Messages
17,707
Reaction score
19,690
Location
Aotearoa
My secondary protagonist in my current book shares POV with the main character. His character has features of Asian descent because he's a character inspired by one of my friends from Okinawa. But, I'm not sure how to best describe the character's features, especially since many of the characters in my book have unrealistic eye and hair colors. I've been stumped on how to describe his skin color in particular. In my current draft, I have described it as: "He finally turns towards her, and his eyes meet hers. She stifles a gasp, they are golden. She knows this from seeing him before, but they are more detailed this close. Brighter in the light. He looks young, her age maybe, with tawny skin and almond eyes."

Is this an appropriate description?
IMO: No.

1. ETA: PEOPLE'S body parts, like skin and eyes and hair, are not food. (Because obv for non-vegetarians, chicken breasts and beef rump and pig skin are food. But yeah, I'd be fairly offended if someone said "Unimportant has banana hair, grape eyes, and skin the colour of chicken thigh meat," even though those descriptions may be fairly accurate.)
2. Almond eyes is a cliched, hackneyed term. Some people find it offensive. And, quite frankly, it's wildly inaccurate. See this article and this article.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Maryn and SWest

Unimportant

No COVID yet. Still masking.
Staff member
Moderator
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 8, 2005
Messages
17,707
Reaction score
19,690
Location
Aotearoa
I'm confused what you mean by the secondary protag shares the POV with the main character. Is this a "two dudes driving one car" sorta situation?
I reckon it means alternating POV between the two characters
 
  • Like
Reactions: sonder_siri

Woollybear

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 27, 2017
Messages
9,158
Reaction score
8,594
Location
USA
My secondary protagonist in my current book shares POV with the main character. His character has features of Asian descent because he's a character inspired by one of my friends from Okinawa. But, I'm not sure how to best describe the character's features, especially since many of the characters in my book have unrealistic eye and hair colors. I've been stumped on how to describe his skin color in particular. In my current draft, I have described it as: "He finally turns towards her, and his eyes meet hers. She stifles a gasp, they are golden. She knows this from seeing him before, but they are more detailed this close. Brighter in the light. He looks young, her age maybe, with tawny skin and almond eyes."

Is this an appropriate description?
What I notice when I read established authors is they get less caught up on physical descriptors and more involved with conveying the emotional state or personality state of the character in question.

Suspicious eyes, a permanent scowl, an open and almost congenial expression--these sorts of descriptions usually carry more weight than 'dark skin' or whatever.

Yes, you run the risk of readers assuming the character is a white dude. But truly, is the shape of the eyes more important than the content of character?
 
  • Like
Reactions: sonder_siri

Unimportant

No COVID yet. Still masking.
Staff member
Moderator
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 8, 2005
Messages
17,707
Reaction score
19,690
Location
Aotearoa
She stifles a gasp, they are golden.
Sorry. I have resisted and resisted, but I can hold out no longer.

THAT IS A RUN-ON SENTENCE. Replace the comma with a period or semi-colon, please.

::wipes sweat from brow with trembling hand::
 

Snitchcat

Dragon-kitty.
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 2, 2006
Messages
6,344
Reaction score
975
Location
o,0
No to almond eyes. Just no. Inaccurate and Far Eastern eyes are not food.
 
  • Like
Reactions: sonder_siri

Unimportant

No COVID yet. Still masking.
Staff member
Moderator
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 8, 2005
Messages
17,707
Reaction score
19,690
Location
Aotearoa

Snitchcat

Dragon-kitty.
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 2, 2006
Messages
6,344
Reaction score
975
Location
o,0

CJSimone

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Oct 10, 2016
Messages
1,382
Reaction score
492
Sorry. I have resisted and resisted, but I can hold out no longer.

THAT IS A RUN-ON SENTENCE. Replace the comma with a period or semi-colon, please.

::wipes sweat from brow with trembling hand::
Or even a lovely em dash that some of us overuse, lol.
 

sonder_siri

Registered
Joined
Dec 7, 2021
Messages
32
Reaction score
34
Age
19
IMO: No.

1. ETA: PEOPLE'S body parts, like skin and eyes and hair, are not food. (Because obv for non-vegetarians, chicken breasts and beef rump and pig skin are food. But yeah, I'd be fairly offended if someone said "Unimportant has banana hair, grape eyes, and skin the colour of chicken thigh meat," even though those descriptions may be fairly accurate.)
2. Almond eyes is a cliched, hackneyed term. Some people find it offensive. And, quite frankly, it's wildly inaccurate. See this article and this article.
Thank you, the last thing I want to do is have offensive terms in my book. I really appreciate the feedback
 

sonder_siri

Registered
Joined
Dec 7, 2021
Messages
32
Reaction score
34
Age
19
Yes, you run the risk of readers assuming the character is a white dude. But truly, is the shape of the eyes more important than the content of character?
It's not. I'm grateful for having a place like this to help me make sure that I don't make those mistakes. As well as be able to educate me on things that I'm not aware of
 
  • Like
Reactions: Woollybear

LJD

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Sep 12, 2010
Messages
4,226
Reaction score
525
Location
Toronto
Is this speculative fiction?

I write romance with mostly Chinese-Canadian main characters. Romance can be heavier on physical description than other genres (especially for the MCs). But I tend not to describe skin color and eyes that much. And I will say things like "he looked East Asian" because I want to be explicit about race (so readers don't assume everyone's white), and also, people tend to quickly make assumptions when they see someone for the first time. Note that my romances are contemporary. If you're setting things in a different world, words like "East Asian" may or may not have meaning in that world...

(I had no idea wtf "almond-shape eyes" was even supposed to mean until a couple of years ago when I looked it up.)
 

sonder_siri

Registered
Joined
Dec 7, 2021
Messages
32
Reaction score
34
Age
19
I'm confused what you mean by the secondary protag shares the POV with the main character. Is this a "two dudes driving one car" sorta situation?
Sorry, I'm not in tune with regular writing terms. I meant that I have two POV's in my book. I say that the character is secondary because their story isn't the leading plot in the book.
 

sonder_siri

Registered
Joined
Dec 7, 2021
Messages
32
Reaction score
34
Age
19
Is this speculative fiction?

I write romance with mostly Chinese-Canadian main characters. Romance can be heavier on physical description than other genres (especially for the MCs). But I tend not to describe skin color and eyes that much. And I will say things like "he looked East Asian" because I want to be explicit about race (so readers don't assume everyone's white), and also, people tend to quickly make assumptions when they see someone for the first time. Note that my romances are contemporary. If you're setting things in a different world, words like "East Asian" may or may not have meaning in that world...

(I had no idea wtf "almond-shape eyes" was even supposed to mean until a couple of years ago when I looked it up.)
It's based in a fantasy world, so I wouldn't be able to do that.
I think what made me assume that term was connected to a specific description, is that it has been overused in older literature. I suppose I never really thought it through? I am definitely glad I made this post so that I can be aware of the offensive terms that I've been ignorant to.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Unimportant

Unimportant

No COVID yet. Still masking.
Staff member
Moderator
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 8, 2005
Messages
17,707
Reaction score
19,690
Location
Aotearoa
And that's what it's all about. Learning, improving, and writing better stories.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Maryn

Maryn

Sees All
Staff member
Super Moderator
Moderator
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 12, 2005
Messages
53,681
Reaction score
22,642
Location
Snow Cave
Yup. For instance, technically that wasn't a run-on sentence. It was a comma splice, two independent clauses joined by a comma.

Maryn, ducking for cover
 

Unimportant

No COVID yet. Still masking.
Staff member
Moderator
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 8, 2005
Messages
17,707
Reaction score
19,690
Location
Aotearoa
Yup. For instance, technically that wasn't a run-on sentence. It was a comma splice, two independent clauses joined by a comma.

Maryn, ducking for cover
:e2sling: