Verbs for the Scene: Sexy Verbs


The “ins” and “outs” of descriptive language in some of the most intense wriitng situations.

While at teacher boot-camp, my cohort (what they call a collection of new teachers; it kind of feels like we should be banding together with the uruk-hai) and I were tasked to come up with collaborative projects for our students. While thinking, I remembered a student-initiated collaboration I took part in when I was a junior in high school: we created a list of the best verbs for writing sex scenes.

Every day, the seniors would begin with the list in comp class then rotate it out to us juniors in language. We passed it between one another as if we were smuggling contraband. We even started a list of un-sexy verbs. We all giggled behind our teacher’s back while we passed the note under our desks, the very same circle-time seating she enforced providing a speedy delivery system for our illicit composition.

I told my fellow new-teachers about this and it got a few chuckles, but I think this may be something legit. I participated in this list years ago, and I still remember the top ones and employ them in my writing accordingly. So this must have been an effective writing tool, right?

Okay, I confess I’m not going to have my students make up a list of best verbs used to describe sex, but I can make them create lists for other writing situations. And under the guise of this pen name, I can pursue my own inappropriate list without worrying. So, without further back story, I present a list of good smut verbs. (…which are not given in any particular order of importance)

1. Moan: It’s like the canon of smut words and runs the risk of being overdone, but this word is necessary in many sex scenes, especially for newbies writing sex scenes. We humans are very aural creatures. We like to hear things. Writing out what people say in sex is pretty good, but when it comes down to, “Ohgodohgodohgod,fuckyes,godyes” we can’t really write that out without boring the reader. And “ooooughnnnnnnah” or “nugnh” are equally disgusting. Summarizing with a basic “moan” works wonders and engages the reader’s imagination. Gasp, groan, grunt, and cry out are all good variations to this staple.

2. Thrust: Another canon. This word should only appear a couple times in any given sex scene, but it needs to be in there. It’s almost expected. It’s also dangerous in that it can encourage redundancy. Saying, “thrusting in and out” is unnecessary because to have a continual thrusting motion, one must be moving in two directions over and over. But, “thrust” is almost synonymous with “sex”, so I am including it in this list. Penetrate is never an acceptable substitute. It sounds like someone is getting stabbed.

3. Rock: It’s just one hot action, to rock into or against. For me, it has a good connotation. It’s also not very clinical, so it’s a good balancing word to scandalize your readers right when they think they’re beginning to read a gynaecology report. In fact, this is the part in the gynaecology visit where things turn into a bad smut novel. Ride is another nice one, but hard to work in, because rode in the past tense form has a different sound to it. I suppose grind could also fall into this category, but I’m not to partial to the word. It’s a little overdone in my book. Never use ungulate. It sounds like the character is giving birth.

4. Kiss: It’ll either happen in the scene, or it won’t happen for power-dynamics. Either way, a kiss or the lack of a kiss leads to all sorts of hotness. It also opens the door for more descriptive verbs like suck, glide, and slip. Kissing, it’s kind of important to passion.

5. Lick: Important for sex scenes in that it’s how the tongue usually interacts with the body. It also invokes the sense of taste. Licking is an extremely strong verb because it is tied to this sense. If you apply it to odd places, make sure your audience is up for the ride, because it can turn readers off quickly if not. Similar words like bite and nip focus in on the teeth.

Well, I sort of sectioned this off into five little categories, but I feel like I made a good start here. I want to make an installment out of this, perhaps include verbs for different scenes or address further questions people may have about this particular genre. Comments are welcome. Happy writing!


2 thoughts on “Verbs for the Scene: Sexy Verbs

  1. “And “ooooughnnnnnnah” or “nugnh” are equally disgusting.”

    GIRL, WHAT YOU TALKIN’ ABOUT? In no way is that not the stuff that swooning is made of. Anything with a random ‘g’ is basically the written equivalent of a Rihanna song. Or something. Are Rihanna songs the sexy stuff these days? What are those kids grindin’ to in this modern age? Maybe “Bedroom Hymns” by Florence, because bow chicka wow wow. (Now, there’s a verb that needs to be in every sexy scene. ‘Edward bow-chicka-wow-wowed across the bedroom, sparkling me into a frenzy of divine ecstasy while simultaneously eviscerating all my self-esteem… oooooooooooughnnnnnnnnnahhhh!’)

    p.s. Oh dear I found your blog. Welcome to hell!

    With that being said: I am always impressed like crazy by sex scenes that actually manage to be evocative instead of just silly. I would expound upon this except for the fact where I am supposed to be over at campus in like 20 minutes. TIME MANAGEMENT, WHAT’S THAT WHEN YOU HAVE WRITING TALK? WHY DO I LOVE HYSTERICAL CAPS LOCK SO MUCH? OKAY, PEACE OUT!

    p.p.s. I love that you write lesbian fiction because I swear, that genre produces most of my favorite books ever. Sarah Waters and Emma Donoghue are my GODDESSES. Tales of ladyloves are the best tales of all.

    • Oh my god. I should have known who this was without even seeing the name it was tagged with. This was possibly the most entertaining comment I’ve ever received. Specifically, the part about Edward.

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