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The Joy of Writing Sex [Paperback]

Elizabeth Benedict
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: £9.99
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Book Description

13 Jun 2002
The definitive guide to writing sex scenes and its lessons will also teach the craft of writing fiction as a whole. Elizabeth Benedict explores all the issues: the first time, married sex, adultery and more. It is a guide grounded in the experiences and examples of the best contemporary novelists: Toni Morrison, Edmund White, Roddy Doyle and John Updike among others. Benedict focuses on crafting believable sex scenes that hinge on freshness of character, dialogue, mood and plot. She takes into account recent changes in sexual attitudes due to AIDS, Monica Lewinsky and cybersex. There are interviews with a wide range of younger writers, including Jeanette Winterson, Darin Strauss and Dorothy Allison.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Souvenir Press Ltd; New edition edition (13 Jun 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0285636421
  • ISBN-13: 978-0285636422
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 615,203 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Elizabeth Benedict's quietly perceptive guide... a useful book for would-be novelists and an interesting one for readers of fiction. -- 'The Sunday Times' June 16th 2002

Humane and life-affirming, it shares the liberating rationale of the work whose title it parodies. -- 'The Guardian' June 15th 2002

Read it because it will teach you everything you need to know about writing good fiction. -- Peter Carey, author of True History of the Kelly Gang

About the Author

Elizabeth Benedict is the author of four novels and has been a finalist in the American Book Award. She has taught creative writing at Princeton University and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Despite the title this is a really classy book. It shows you how to write pulitzer prize sex scenes rather than sleazy. It isn't a handbook for porn writers at all. It is aimed at literary fiction writers.It teaches you primarily that sex scenes are always about something other than sex. Definitely one of the best (and most entertaining) writing books I own.
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1.0 out of 5 stars FULL OF GENERALITIES AND LIFTED QUOTES 11 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase
For a writer it hardly advanced my knowledge. Couldn't finish it .Title is a big let down.not even sure i'll give it to my local charity shop
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4.0 out of 5 stars - and why it is not a 'joy'! 5 May 2011
As another reviewer has pointed out, this is not a manual for writing erotica. This is about the place of sex scenes in mainstream fiction.

It is curious how the normal criteria for assessing the valdity of a scene, and whether it has a place in your novel, often go out the window when it comes to writing the 'sex scene'. This book discusses not only how to write such scenes, but how to assess whether they should be there at all - not on 'moral' grounds, but by the same criteria as all scenes should be judged: how do they advance the plot of the novel? What do they teach us about the protagonists?

And that is why this book is very different from one about writing pornography - it treats the sex scene as an integral part of the novel, not an erotic interlude.

Of course, this means that it does not restrict its remit to consensual, 'vanilla' sex. It also discusses the inclusion of sex scenes which deal with subjects that were previously taboo, such as incest and rape. This makes it a sometimes uncomfortable, but always informative read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Must Have for Any Fiction Writer! 8 May 2008
By Gerald Browning - Published on Amazon.com
Elizabeth Benedict's look at sex in fiction is not only a "how-to" book on making sex matter in a novel, it also includes a collection of novels and short stories that every writer should read. Benedict gives hot and steamy passages from some of the country's best authors and shows us why they are effective. Not only do these passages get us hot under the collar, but they also move the story.

Sex is not meant as an instruction manual in fiction, to paraphrase Benedict. If one wants assistance in how a love scene (no matter how good or bad the lovers actually are) can move a story, it is a great piece of reading.

It took me several months to read this book because after each chapter, I had to go back into stories I had written before and change them! Benedict is quite thought-provoking in her analysis. Also, she includes excerpts from famous authors and their views towards sex in their literature.

Many different avenues towards sex are explored: the first time, recreational sex, gay sex, straight sex, married sex, adultery...the list literally goes on.

Even though I have already read it once, it is still at my computer terminal in my office. I definitely suggest reading her book and the recommended books that are within it.
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