Villainous Vocabulary

While I was revising Hellbound, I found myself running into trouble with a certain villain’s dialogue.  This, I realized, was because villains are just so…done.  All you have to do is watch a Disney movie to realize that there is a formula that many cliche villains follow.

[EDIT 5/30/13: It seems like a lot of the pictures I put up keep failing to show up.  I can’t tell if that’s due to an error on WordPress or Disney/the owners of the pictures taking them down or something.  I don’t really know how the internet works.  So sorry if some of the pictures are missing.  Feel free to Google anyone you can’t call up an image of in your head]

They are ugly…

Jafar, Aladdin

Governor Ratcliffe, Pocahontas

They are smooth talkers…

Scar, The Lion King

Dr. Facilier, The Princess and the Frog

They want to kill puppies…

Cruella Deville, 101 Dalmatians

You get the drift.  But mainly I wanted to talk about the smooth talkers.  Seriously, there are a lot of villainous smooth talkers…

Hades, Hercules

The reason I’ve been thinking about this is, as I said, I was trying to write a villain.  And he ended up talking like so many Scars and Hades…es that I had to completely rewrite a lot of his dialogue.  It got me to thinking about what makes a villain’s dialogue so cliche.  I mean, there are a ton of phrases out there that have been used so much that they can turn an ordinary character or situation into a cliche.  Stop me if you’ve heard this one (but really don’t):

“Impudent brat”

“Petulant child”

“Just stay out of my way”

“Meddling kids”

“Curses!  Foiled again!”

“You’re going to regret that”

“Get them!”


Seriously, guys…what is so funny about being a villain?  Why do all villains laugh?  That’s just crazy.  I really never got it.  They’re all “You’re about to die!  AHAHAHAHA.”  What is hilarious about that?  I’ve gotten off topic again.

What I’m talking about doesn’t just apply to villainy.  There are a lot of phrases in the English language that are used more often than anyone can count.  Some of them are unavoidable…

“I love you.”

“I hate you.”

“Half past…”

“Quarter ’til…”

“See you later.”

“Come again.”

And some of them are avoidable.  For a list of the avoidable ones, just scroll up.  How many villains have given the order, “Get them!” to their minions?  A lot.  Does your villain have to?  No.  I’m sure you can think of a way around it.  And this will set your villain apart from the rest.

Another thing…villains might be crazy, but the crazier they act, the more cliche they become (sometimes).

Ursula, The Little Mermaid

Sometimes, a villain can be “crazy,” but still think that they are super sane.  So they act sane.  They speak rationally, and they don’t go for the dramatics.


If you make your villain a person, just a regular Joe like the rest of us, then you’ve created something scary: a monster that can walk among us, unseen and unsuspected.  Someone who will buy a bouquet of flowers for their girlfriend on the way home from murdering a middle-aged couple in their own home.

Unfortunately, that type of villain has been done, too.  (Think Patrick Bateman, the antihero from American Psycho)  They’ve all been done, really.  But there is a way to take a cliche and make it your own.  You just have to fiddle around with it a bit.

Done now!

Writer's Block Strip 24

Words of the Day (I couldn’t pick):

Impudent (adj) – of, pertaining to, or characterized by impertinence or effrontery.

Petulant (adj) – moved to or showing sudden, impatient irritation, especially over some trifling annoyance.

P.S. – Sorry for using all your images and whatnot, Disney!  I swear I’m not trying to profit off of them, so please, please don’t sue me.

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Filed under books, Comic, Humor, writing

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