Writing with Color: Description Guide - Words for Skin Tone

We discussed the issue of describing People of Color by means of food in Part I of this guide, which brought rise to even more questions, mostly along the lines of “So, if food’s not an option, what can I use?” Well, I was just getting to that!

This final portion focuses on describing skin tone, with photo and passage examples provided throughout. I hope to cover everything from the use of straight-forward description to the more creatively-inclined, keeping in mind the questions we’ve received on this topic.

So let’s get to it.

S T A N D A R D  D E S C R I P T I O N

B a s i c  C o l o r s


Pictured above: Black, Brown, Beige, White, Pink.

"She had brown skin.”

  • This is a perfectly fine description that, while not providing the most detail, works well and will never become cliché.
  • Describing characters’ skin as simply brown or beige works on its own, though it’s not particularly telling just from the range in brown alone.

C o m p l e x  C o l o r s

These are more rarely used words that actually “mean” their color. Some of these have multiple meanings, so you’ll want to look into those to determine what other associations a word might have.

Read More

Fairly comprehensive resource for describing skin tone in writing.




Zidane spends Act 1 pretending to care, going through the motions without ever really understanding or even questioning why he does the things he does; in that regard, he’s an awful lot like Steiner and the Black Mages. Zidane solves problems, helps people, and generally behaves like a dashingly heroic storybook rogue, all without ever asking himself if it’s even what he wants to do.

And like Steiner, like the Black Mages, Zidane slowly awakens; he has to learn to not just question himself but to consider himself; to think of his own wants and fears as part of the equation of his action. He learns it by traveling with and being influenced by those who do nothing but question themselves (Garnet and Vivi); those who don’t run away from their doubt and fear, even though they don’t necessarily know how to make it go away.

It’s hard to tell unless you look closely, because he’s so good at playing his role; but the truth is Zidane begins the game as empty as all the rest of the puppets, basically just reacting to stimuli rather than thinking for himself. But when he comes back here to sit with Kuja, ready to die for a man who’s done nothing but try to kill him, it is with newfound empathy, because Zidane understands that he is Kuja, or was; and that he can’t not try to save Kuja, because he was once a lost cause too, and still people reached out for him.

(Source: kisswithatear)

I didn’t end up pre-ordering the new Theatrhythm for some reason (like I wasn’t going to buy it???) but it turned out that it didn’t matter because the Gamestop accidentally got shipped an extra of the pre-order version so the Gamestop guy decided to just give it to me.

Anyway, this pretty much marks the beginning of my descent into the Eternal Video Game Hell Gauntlet, so I’ll see you all when I finish all these games seven years from now or whenever.

I need to make a list of Things I Need To Do and then do them before I descend into an eternity of playing Theatrhythm later today.

I think it’s finally been long enough since I worked at Silver Falls that I actually want to back there now.

(To visit, not to work. Holy hell, that job was awful.)

Maybe it’s just that I’m not living in a super-urban area anymore, my brain is basically like, “Well, if you’re not gonna live in the city, might as well go back to living on swamp farms and in the foothills of temperate mountain rainforests.”  Because I tell you what, people in rural Oregon are awful, but the scenery operates on some LotR-level.

Well, lesson learned.  Myers-Briggs testing is completely incapable of accounting for mental disabilities.

Character development counts as working on writing, right?

And taking personality tests for my characters counts as character development, right?

Message me with a character that you associate me with.


A character that makes you think of me every time, any fandom, original character, whatever!