I'm working on a post apocalyptic story currently and it's set in an alternate universe Earth, 100 years after some major catastrophe (disease? asteroid strike? war?) has occurred on the planet that wiped out 90% of the world's population. There's about 4-5 continents. Descendants of the survivors have been around for about 2-3 generations. Some of them have moved into one of the few remaining cities to rebuild while others are farmers and ranchers. The technology is kind of a mishmash of remnants of we would consider 21st century technology and 18th century things.

For example, you would see guards with swords and bows right next to a mercenary cowboy with a six shooter and think nothing of it. A daily newspaper is printed, and you see an occasional operational telephone booth and a few small cars that still run. 

My main characters are black. But I wanted to have some asians and hispanics and a few white people as well. How can I describe them properly? Remember, in this world there is no America, no Europe, no Asian countries, etc. Does anyone have any helpful suggestions on what are good general words and phrases to use to describe different ethnicity that make sense (and aren't politically incorrect?) They have had slavery and their version of Jim Crow already, but few racists.

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Just don't mention it unless it's something obvious like Klingons or Jawas where an actual description is necessary!

Worf is technically a black Klingon but rarely is that even a topic of discussion during the show!

Mentioning race could either be a blessing or suck all the air out of the room so tread carefully!

I would concentrate on simply describing the characters: height, color and type of hair, shape of face, skin tone, shape of the nose and eyes and mouth if it's important. Are the differences important in the context of the story?  That, for me, would be the key question.

The way that the story is set, due to the events in the really big disaster and it's after effects, there would be more of a mix. As there are fewer people in the world overall, people of many ethnicities intermarried and reproduced. It's not really like darker skinned people would be rare at that point. In this world, race wouldn't really get a mentioned in a negative sense, I suppose. I really wanted to deal more with classism in my story. 

You are hereby ordered to swiftly raise a bent knee, flick it hard, land on your tippy toes and then grab your privates and yell OW... EEH EEH Hee... Shamone


It doesn't matter if you are black and white except in a Spike Lee Joint! Lol

Unless you are actually making a bonafide racially based story with a truly distinct point to make you would be better served writing an epic story that sells toys and other merchandise starring black folks as the lead characters!

Deep down most black fanboys and black fangirls don't really care if there is not one black person in the entire Lord of The Rings/Hobbit franchise as long as their pure escapism needs are met!

If you pause too long for station identification you might lose the audience before you ever really gain it's attention!

The movie Elysium tried to make a classism statement and totally flopped at the box office... Are you sure you want to venture down this route with racism as your subtext?


I'm sure. I'm all the way sure. I'm not doing this for mass media consumption. I'm not trying to get a toy deal off of this story, or a movie deal. I just wanted to play around with a story. But thanks for the concern. And Elysium rocked in my humble opinion.

Clifton you are not off the hook yet... You still failed to do a Michael Jackson impression and that is unforgivable! Lol

In any case looking forward to whatever you decide to do with this project!

Try Ibero-Americans for the Spanish. I know you said no America, but for generations after the fall of Rome, people still thought they were in the Roman empire.

Clifton McMillan Jr. said:

I'm sure. I'm all the way sure. I'm not doing this for mass media consumption. I'm not trying to get a toy deal off of this story, or a movie deal. I just wanted to play around with a story. But thanks for the concern. And Elysium rocked in my humble opinion.

Ditto on Elysium.

 For what it's worth, I remember in one of my favorite books a particular character, Fiyero, was black. The book got this across by saying he had "ochre" skin, then saying dark skin, and later by having one character mention him having skin "the color of shit".

Amazingly still, a lot of people don't even know the character was black in the book. Hmm.

Iran harris, I try to do the moonwalk every so often (with varying degrees of success). Does that count? Daquon, thanks for letting me know about those descriptions. G. H. Wright, you got a point about the fall of Rome. Appreciate y'all tossing me some input.

Clifton it's the effort that counts!

However... If it's not posted on Facebook, Instagram or one the many other social media formats it didn't happen! Lol

I say you listen to Margaret and describe lots of things about the characters, not just skin tone. It's researched that readers will default to seeing characters as white, even when they're described with brown skin (or even darker). I say, make your characters yours, and make them on the page what you see in your head.

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