YA Stock Characters (The ones you always read and write about)

I probably have more story ideas than I could write. But as I was writing the outline of the story that I’m currently working on, I noticed a pattern to my characters. Every time I create a story (usually young-adult contemporary romance set in small town high schools), I just use certain character archetypes and play matchmaker with them in the story. I blame the YA novels I read.

I do it unconsciously, but knowing it now makes me realize how cliche my characters can be. This challenges me to break their mold and give them more depth and development. But for now, let’s just get to know each of them and…make fun of them.

So, I wrote their basic character profiles.

Meet my YA stock characters:

The Bad Boy

A.K.A The Rebel; Female Counterpart: The Bad Girl (duh!)

Brooding, mysterious, damaged, rebellious. Hides a dark, tragic past. Often wears a leather jacket and rides a motorcycle. Needs the right girl to change his rebel ways. Has a tattoo and hides a scar, literally and figuratively. Most likely orphaned to make him even more tragic. Obviously brings trouble but there has to be some redeeming qualities, right?

The Popular Jock

A.K.A The Popular Jock (there’s no other way to do it); Female Counterpart: The Popular Cheerleader

The guy every girl wants. Also a known playboy. Supposedly the epitome of a cool guy. Acts like an airhead on the outside, but keeps a sensible and thoughtful personality. Has honey-chocolate abs to die for. Most likely the town’s golden boy quarterback. Redeeming qualities: HOT. But also his secret philosophical depth hidden behind his good looks and jackass-jerk facade.

The Boy-Next-Door

A.K.A The Nice Guy; Female Counterpart: The Girl-Next-Door

Best friend-to-boyfriend material. Literally the guy that lives next door. Also known as Mr. McPerfectson. Likes basketball and music, plays the guitar, can also sing and cook, loves dogs, love babies, loves you. Gentleman with a killer smile and dimples on both cheeks. Redeeming qualities: EVERYTHING.

The Cute Nerd

A.K.A Totally-Not-A-Nerd-Just-A-Cute-Guy-Wearing-Glasses; Female Counterpart: The Cute Nerd (girl version)

Shy, quiet, awkward. Not necessarily studious but naturally smart (or not). Loves his video games, superhero comic books, and sci-fi/fantasy movies. Often wears glasses. Secretly hot and wild and everything you want him to be. Is working on a sci-fi graphic novel of his own (so he most definitely knows how to draw).

The Good Girl

A.K.A The Mary Sue; Male Counterpart: Definitely NOT The Bad Boy

Innocent, humble, simple (or plain), timid. Doesn’t know she’s pretty until the right guy tells her. Loves reading books, and probably has a book and movie review blog. Has hidden wit and sarcasm (how is she gonna write those killer reviews if she’s not witty like me). Can stand up for herself only when she’s up against her love interest and the love interest’s evil ex-girlfriend.

The Ice Princess

A.K.A Elsa, Concealed, Doesn’t Feel; Male Counterpart: The Ice Prince

Complete straight A’s, no non-sense girl. Perfect in every way except for her cold, uptight, and a little bit (by that, I mean very) naive personality. Trained in some fancy talent like piano, ballet, or painting. Uses only at least three-syllabic SAT words in a casual conversation. Facial expressions are limited to a resting bitch face. Actually has feelings.

The Tomboy

A.K.A The-Girl-You-Didn’t-Realize-Was-Beautiful-Until-A-Makeover; Male Counterpart: (I actually have no idea)

Quirky, sporty, one-of-the-boys. Hates make-up and wearing high heels or skirts. Tough as nails but still a lady at heart. Can play basketball, knows how to skateboard, and beat the boys at it. Secretly a huge fangirl of boy bands. Fashion sense is limited to over-sized T shirts, baggy jeans, sneakers, and other hand-me-downs.

The Queen Bee

A.K.A The Girl You Envy; Male Counterpart: Your Dream Guy

The girl every guy wants. Pretty, sassy, and fierce. Often mistaken as the mean girl. Always the homecoming and prom queen. Also known as the popular girl that rules high school, and your teacher’s favorite student. Probably in a relationship with The Popular Jock. Rival includes The Popular Cheerleader. Struggles to keep her royal image.

This list doesn’t represent all of the stock characters that we have in YA contemporary fiction. These are just the archetypes that I use in my own stories. So, if you think I missed someone, no worries, you can write about them. But don’t forget to try and destroy their tropes. That makes a story more interesting.

Single (and Bitter): What They Say vs. What They Think

Straight from your resident still-single-but-NOT-ready-to-mingle blogger girl, Sophie Kat! (Note: You can only relate to this if you’re single AND bitter…and maybe a bit desperate too.)

What they say: “Ugh. All these couples making-out. Gross.”

What they think: “I’m so jealous! I want that too.”

What they say: “I don’t need a man!”

What they think: “Love me please. Love me!”

What they say: “See? No relationship drama.”

What they think: “No make-up…’cuddle’ either.”

What they say: “Freedom!”

What they think: “…is so lonely.”

What they say: “Sure, I can tag along on your date.”

What they think: “I’m the thirdwheel. Again.”

What they say: “Yeah! I have the whole bed to myself!”

What they think: “B-but I need someone to hug when I sleep!”

What they say: “I can have as many book boyfriends and celebrity crushes as I want!”

What they think: “Wow. My boyfriends are either a poster on the wall or a fictional character. I’m so pathetic.”

What they say: “I don’t have to buy presents for Valentine’s Day!”

What they think: “No one’s gonna give me presents on Valentine’s Day.” *sobs*

What they say: “I don’t have to deal with someone constantly checking up on me.”

What they think: “No one cares for me!”

What they say: “I’m so happy to be single.”

What they think: *sighs*

What they say: “Being in a relationship is overrated anyway.”

What they think: “Who am I kidding, I need a boyfriend now!”

(Since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, I decided to repost one of my favorite relationship-related posts. I hope you enjoyed it the second time. Or if you’re a first-time reader, did you enjoy it?)

Am I Proud to be Filipino?

In case you didn’t know, I am Filipino. I was born in the Philippines, raised in the Philippines, living in the Philippines, only ever been in the Philippines. Yup, I’m pure Filipino through and through—except that I probably have at most 10% Spanish blood in me based on our ancestry (unless that’s another lie my mother told me to make us look fancy or something). No hablas español though.

Anyway, all I’ve ever known is how to be Filipino. I breathe in its culture and history. My skin has only felt its burning-in-the-oven summer seasons or drowning-in-leptospirosis-flood rainy seasons. Such is life in a tropical third-world country. Of course, I’m used to it. I should be. It’s not like I have a choice. This is where I was born.  I’ve been living here all my life! It’s part of my identity. But that’s the thing, I don’t have a choice in any of these. We don’t get to choose our race or nationality. Yet as our country’s citizens, we’re forced to embrace it, to love it, and be proud of it? In schools, we’ve always been taught to be patriotic, offer your life and loyalty to your country. Did I even ask to be here? “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” No, it’s not! Slow internet, heavy traffic, war on drugs…need I say more?

You might think that I am simply whining about being Filipino. In any country, there are always ups and downs, that much I understand. There’s no such thing as a perfect country. (’cause if there’s one, let’s all pack our bags and move there right now). I do think as well that my country has a lot of things worth celebrating such as its vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, rich history, and beautiful geography. But there are also times when I just think, “Can I move to another country, please?” Times when I lose faith in its people. Times when I question their sanity. Times when I ask myself, “Is this what being Filipino is like? Really?” Because most of the time we, Filipinos, can be really stupid and there are a lot of instances to prove that but I’d rather not talk about them. Those are the times when I don’t want anyone to know that I am Filipino, too, because I am so ashamed to be one and I don’t want to carry the world’s generalized impression of us with me.

“But Sophie, you’re not like them. Not all Filipinos are like that. Just because you’re Filipino, doesn’t mean you’re one of the stupid ones.” Well, hear me out.

Filipinos have this mentality that if someone, just anyone at all, has a single drop of Filipino blood running in their veins, even if it is just a percentage of 0.00000000009 and this person hasn’t even stepped on Philippine land or heard a single Filipino word, as long as this person made some “accomplishment” abroad, even a petty one like having the highest record for burping loud tuna breaths, then it’s worth being proud of. (Sorry for the run-on.) I don’t even know why in the world would someone make that kind of record! But it’s always sensationalized here. We have this “fanatic patriotism.” Proud to be Pinoy and all that—and it’s just so stupid. No other words to describe it. Why does it even matter if someone’s Filipino or not? It doesn’t! Why should I be proud just because someone is Filipino? Their nationality has nothing to do with their accomplishment (unless they are directly representing the country, like, in the Olympics or something). Even so, their accomplishment has nothing to do with me.

It’s not that I don’t care about my country or its people. Filipinos are still my people and I deeply care about them. About us. There was even a time when I talked about the West Philippine Sea dispute with China and I got so emotional about it (you can read it here if you want to). But caring about them is different from being proud of them—and embracing my nationality as part of who I am is different from being proud of what I am as someone born into a random nationality. This is not just a case of patriotism VS. nationalism.

I guess what I simply want to say is that what I can do or what other people can do has nothing to do with where they came from. We may accept our nationality, embrace it, or even love it, but I don’t think it’s something to be proud of. Your race, your nationality, even your family—you don’t get to choose them. It’s all like a giant game of luck, like lottery, and lucky you if you were born into a super rich family living in a first-world country. Damn, I can only wish that was me. But is it something to be proud of? Should you be proud of something that you have no control over, something that you just got lucky with? When someone wins the lottery, do you feel proud of them? I know I don’t. You’re Filipino? It doesn’t matter.

If I’m going to be proud of someone, it’s because of their talent and hard work, not because of their blood or nationality. If I accomplished something, it’s not because I’m Filipino. It’s because I worked hard to achieve it. I choose to work hard for it. My achievements has nothing to do with me being Filipino. It just happens that I’m Filipino, that’s all. Even if I was born in a different country, I’d still be able to do the things I can do if I put my mind into it. The same goes for other people. Even if they’re not Filipino, if I know they did their best to do something worthwhile, then that’s when I’ll feel proud of them. It’s not about their country or their blood. It’s about their determination to achieve something good.

So now, am I proud to be Filipino? No, not really. Not in that sense. But am I proud to be me even when I’m Filipino? Yeah, I guess I am.

Tubby Legs

“How’s the weather down there?”
It’s fine, thank you;
And the tall walks away.
I’m living in a world where small things
don’t matter.
Insects fly and they might bite,
But all the giants crush them down.

I’m running and running,
Running out of breath, I’m running.
A piece, alone in the streets,
Please, take my hand now.

Someone help me.
Tubby legs can’t get through.
The world, too big for me.
My tubby legs don’t fit in.

Someone save me.
Tubby legs run too late
The world, too fast for me.
My tubby legs—
No, I don’t want tubby legs!

“How’s the scene down there?”
It’s nice, thank you;
But the tall doesn’t care.
I’m living in a world where small things
don’t matter.
Insects fly and they will bite.
Hoping giants won’t crush them down.

(I wrote this poem a long, long time ago. I think I was complaining about my very short height. I’ll have you know that I’m only 4’10” and when the measurement is inaccurate, I become even smaller, 4’8″. I know, I know, I’m a midget. Don’t get too shocked. But at least I’m always cute! Right? Say yes or I’ll fight you!)

Socializing IS NOT for an Awkward Potato!

Like me! These are just some of the situations that put me into an awkward spot because my brain doesn’t know how to respond in these moments like normal people do.

1) Shaking Hands. It turns me into goo when people offer to shake my hand but it would be impolite to reject them so I take theirs, hoping that my sweaty hand doesn’t bother them at all. Then I’ll realize how stupid I must have seemed to them because they were expecting me to give them my name but I just smiled at them like an idiot, still shaking their hand. Error! Soft hands, distraction, name not found!

2) Giving Time or Direction. I hate it when random people suddenly come to me to ask for time or directions because even though I know what they’re asking for, my brain gets caught off guard and fails to process the situation. So sometimes, I end up giving them the wrong answer which I don’t really mean to. Sorry! Can you please ask me again when I’m ready? I did not prepare for this pop-up quiz!

3) Meeting Eyes. Every time, this puts me into an awkward situation. When I accidentally meet eyes with a stranger, I’m not sure if I should smile at that person or avert my eyes, look elsewhere, and pretend it never happened. I just don’t want them to think I’m a creepy person checking them out. Oh, please. No.

4) Phone Calls. And video chat. Especially video chat. I’d rather meet in person than call or video chat anyone. Both are awkward and sloppy and they test my social skills to the limit. I don’t know, I just find them frustrating. The part I hate the most about phone calls is not knowing when to end the call. My sister and I both have this habit that we would rather the other person hang up for us. So imagine the both us, waiting for each other to end the call.

5) Waving Hands. This one’s a classic. When you think that someone’s waving at you but it turns out that the person they’re waving at is the one behind you. That’s awkward and embarrassing, and makes me feel like a loner who is desperate just for anyone to wave at me. It’s depressing when that happens. But here’s another one…

6) Not Knowing When To Wave. You know, when you see someone from afar and you’re about to pass by each other, you’re not sure when to wave, if you should wave when this person’s just a feet away from you or when he or she is still on the other side of the long hallway, but you know you’ll meet each other halfway anyway so you don’t want to wave too soon, but you don’t want the person to think you’re ignoring him (or her) when you initially saw this person from afar. I just pretend I didn’t see them until they greet me first. (By the way, I am aware that I just had a bad case of a run-on sentence there.)

There’s a lot more than that (and much, much worse) but I don’t want to let you know further just how much of an awkward potato I am. Such is life, such is me. Let me know if you too have situations similar to these. Potatoes should stick for each other!

Funny Little Moment

Fifth Harmony was playing in loud speakers. I was lip-syncing my heart out, dancing and flipping my hair like crazy when someone came by and caught me in the act. It was soooo embarrassing—but totally worth it. Never let anyone ruin your lip-syncing moment, okay? Who cares if they think your crazy? That’s your moment and it’s their fault for suddenly barging in and ruining it. (Right, Sophie. But that was totally embarrassing. If I were you, I would run away, hide in a dark cave, live off bugs and lizards, and never come out again until the end of civilization. Oh, wait. I am Sophie! *sobs* Time to pack my bags! Goodbye!)

THIS IS HOW YOU TURN 21

Yesterday I turned 21 and my two best guy friends came over my house to celebrate with me. IN THE MOST MIND-F*CKING WAY EVER!

We watched two seasons of Black Mirror, a British anthology series, and words can’t express enough how I felt as I watched every brilliantly disturbing episode of it. All I can say is that it was a total mind-f*ck—and that’s saying a lot because I’ve watched so many psychological thrillers before. It shook me. In different yet thematic ways, each episode boldly criticized how primitive and twisted the nature and moral compass of people can be as slaves to technology and media. It’s sick, yes, but it’s also a forecast reflection of human society today, and that’s what makes it more frightening. I don’t want to give away spoilers but if you’re gonna watch it, I’m warning you, you should have a strong stomach and a stable mental health. It’s a great series but it can be so dark and oh, goodness gracious, that first episode with the pig! NO! Just, no! Whoever wrote each episode is a mad genius. Literally mad.

I think I just gave myself a trauma. Way to turn 21 by giving myself a mental, moral, and existential crisis. And my friends just went to the beach after and left me to sleep in distress alone, questioning my life and sanity. Awesome. I had nightmares while the two of them are still camping by the beach in this sunny December day. Those two!