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.

Romance Cliches That I Absolutely Love

People hate cliche. But what they don’t realize is that cliches are cliches because they always work! Here are my top 5 favorite cliches in romance that you might hate to death but I absolutely enjoy reading or watching when done right.

1) Love Triangles. It gets tiring when all the mopey main characters ¬†always have a hard time choosing between two equally sexy, equally good, love interests. “Boohoo, I don’t know who to choose. Both of them are hot.” But I love it when Miss MC clearly knows who she likes. No more playing games. It gives me a hard case of second lead syndrome which I enjoy. A lot. It’s a torturous kind of fun when I’m rooting for the other guy but the girl is so damn loyal to the first one so she rejects the other one. Korean dramas are full of that cliche, but I love it! Come to Mama Sophie, you broken-hearted second male lead hottie! Lemme comfort ya in ma lovin’ arms!

2) The Bad Boy. No, not the douche-y kind of bad boy but the bad boy with a soft, big heart. Girls love bad boys and although I often criticize them for going after that type (because when a boy is bad in real life, he is actually bad, not good, not cool—never accept any kind of douche-y-ness even though he’s your one true love) I love the way fiction easily breaks the archetype. The guy might be wearing the stereotypical leather jacket, the stereotypical dark tattoos, and riding the stereotypical big black bike, but this guy ain’t bad. He’s a nice gentleman with just an awful fashion sense.

3) Special First Meetings. It’s a magical, wonderful thing when two people meet for the first time in a happenstance as strangers. They still don’t know yet what comes to them after but as a reader, you already know. Something deep and special will blossom between them. It doesn’t have to be an insta-love, love-at-first-sight kind of thing. I just want to see the two main characters bump into each other one day like it’s fate or destiny that brought them together.

4) A Shared Past. Plot twist, they were actually childhood sweethearts that got separated from each other long before they even realize what love and puberty are. I’m a sucker for that! As a hopeless romantic, I live off stories of true love and soulmates and meant-to-be’s where people still end up together no matter what happened to them and no matter how long they’ve been away from each other to the point that they’ve forgotten one another. Yet, like fate, they meet again years later. Ah, the unrealistic depiction of love and relationships is so much fun.

5) Star-Crossed Lovers. You know, the usual Romeo-and-Juliet forbidden romance plot or the interspecies, vampire-human, love story—they just never get old. Why do you think are we going to have a Beauty and the Beast live action remake next year? (By the way, I’m so excited for that one!) It’s practically bestiality! Don’t tell me it’s not because Belle fell in love when the Beast is still a beast. That’s kind of the requirement to break the spell. Anyway, there’s something fascinating about forbidden love. There’s a reason why Romeo and Juliet is such a popular classic love story. I want to see love conquering all (although Romeo and Juliet were both too stupid so let’s not count them as an example for the “conquering all” part).

Now, can someone recommend me a good cliche YA romance novel? I want to read something with all of these elements present. Should be fun!