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Discussion Character of Other Races?

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by windu4, Jan 19, 2013.

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  1. windu4

    windu4 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 15, 2008
    I think one of my problems with my fanfiction right now is that I desperately want to introduce characters of other races but there's no in-universe way to name them. I think this can partially be blamed on the fact that George Lucas merely reinvents Asians and Latinos as racial caricatures (looking at you Gunroy and Nien Numb) in his movies. That being said the only really type of race I can name are black people (Disclaimer: I am a black person so if I slink into any casual definitions of race regarding my own culture it's just me being you know...black? I don't know I just feel like that needed to be said).

    Latinos or Mexicans/Asians/Indians are all named after the region they came from and it'd just be super awkward for me to casually say people were yellow, brown or anything like that.

    I've read tons of the EU but I've never really come across any author who is able to address this issue. Are there any fanfic writers here who have figured out a way to reference other races other than black and white people in-universe? Or should I just break the fourth wall?

    I'm this close to just claiming there's one massive planet named Asia or India and going from there but that just seems too easy.
     
  2. Jedi_Lover

    Jedi_Lover Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 1, 2004
    I think describing the color would be best. Dark brown, pale, lightly tanned, dark pigmented, reddish skinned. I guess you could use earth words like olive skinned or rosy complexion without readers calling foul. You can say the skin had a yellowish brown tint to it. I can't remember how Lando was described but I bet it was dark skinned and not black.
     
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  3. CmdrMitthrawnuruodo

    CmdrMitthrawnuruodo Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 1, 2000
    Ive used "caucasian" myself to describe fair-skinned humans. The word is strange and foreign enough to pass for some planet in Star Wars, I suppose.

    "Hi, I'm from Caucasi, where you from?" :oops:

    But I agree with Jedi_Lover, simply describing the color should be enough.
     
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  4. windu4

    windu4 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 15, 2008
    That's a good point. Perhaps I simply lack the vocabulary to define people's looks in the terms that I want to. I guess I need to take a trip to a thesaurus than.
     
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  5. TrakNar

    TrakNar Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 4, 2011
    Another option would be to relate the skin color and texture to perhaps an object. An imposing ruffian whose scarred face had more pits than my worn-out holster, and a color to match.
     
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  6. Jedi_Lover

    Jedi_Lover Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 1, 2004
    His skin was red like an angry hemorrhoid. :p Yeah that works.
     
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  7. mavjade

    mavjade It's so FLUFFY! Fanfic Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Sep 10, 2005
    Great topic for discussion!

    I must say I haven't seen it in much in SW fanfic, sadly, but I have seen as Jedi_Lover suggested in many other fandoms. I think that description is almost always a better thing that just naming the race or species of someone. For Han, Leia or Luke, we don't necessarily need a vivid description, but for other characters, especially OC's it really helps the reader to understand/visualize your characters and makes them feel more real.
     
  8. Luna_Nightshade

    Luna_Nightshade Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Jan 25, 2006
    From the famous planet Hemorrhoi.

    Agreed with above. In almost all cases, a description is better than just the word itself. This is especially true of non-humanoid species--I want to visualize, not guess.
     
    Iverna likes this.
  9. Alexis_Wingstar

    Alexis_Wingstar Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2006
    Yellowish brown tint can also be honey toned. Similarly, dark skinned/black can be described as molasses.
     
  10. Iverna

    Iverna Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 20, 2008
    Yeah, I'd go with descriptions. Do you ever read fantasy? Racial characteristics are usually described there, since places like Middle-Earth don't have Africa or Asia or whatever, obviously. It's not been much of an issue in SW for me, since I write mostly canon characters which are almost all white (or, like Lando or Mace, well-known enough that I don't need to describe them anyway), but I write fantasy too and always end up going with descriptions there. Fair skin, tanned, skin the colour of ebony, freckled skin, ruddy-cheeked, etc. There are tons of ways to describe features.

    There were some threads in the NaNo forums about writing characters of various races, you might find some useful tips and links there?

    http://www.nanowrimo.org/en/forums/fantasy/threads/67166
    http://www.nanowrimo.org/en/forums/fantasy/threads/82857
    http://www.nanowrimo.org/en/forums/writing-101/threads/63390

    Aside from that there are tons of articles about it out there, so just google "writing different races in fantasy" or something and I'm sure you'll get some advice.
     
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  11. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Knight star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2010
    As others have said, the best way to address ethnically oriented visual traits is through strait up description. This can get a bit lengthy at times if one desires to be explicit, since no one feature, including skin tone, pins down 'race' on its own. If brevity is desired you can, with care, proxy race across planetary lines, since there are legitimate reasons for certain planetary populations (outside of the largest, more cosmopolitan systems) to be divided in this way due to bottleneck and genetic drift effects. This is also the approach needed if you wish to meld cultural traits that are associated with a particular ethnic heritage to those physical features, as oppossed to all human characters retaining the default, westernized Star Wars spacefaring culture.
     
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  12. Blue_10

    Blue_10 Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Oct 13, 2001
    Ditto to all of the above. As a writer, part of the journey is figuring out how best to describe people, places, and things in a way that is most appropriate to the situation. Questions to ask yourself might be: how do I want readers to perceive this person in question? Is my purpose in describing a person this way meant to set a mood for a scene? Is it meant to show the reader a character's perception of the person being described? Playing around with this general idea will help you decide the best way to go on this one.
     
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