The Joy of Writing Sex A Guide for Fiction Writers

Elizabeth Benedict

Holt Paperbacks



Trade Paperback

256 Pages



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Five years after it was first published, The Joy of Writing Sex remains the classic guide to writing convincing sex scenes. Elizabeth Benedict covers all the issues, from the first time, to married sex and adultery, to sex in the age of AIDS.

Her instruction, supported with examples from the works of today's most respected writers—among them Dorothy Allison, Russell Banks, Alan Hollinghurst, Joyce Carol Oates, Carol Shields, and John Updike—focuses on crafting believable sex scenes that hinge on freshness of character, dialogue, mood, and plot.

In this revised edition, Benedict addresses the latest sexual revolution, intimacy on the Internet; adds new interviews with Edmund White, Darren Strauss, Stephen McCauley, and other writers; and updates her selections to include examples from the best fiction of the past few years.


Praise for The Joy of Writing Sex

"Elizabeth Benedict's The Joy of Writing Sex answers all the questions you've been afraid to ask . . . Benedict's book—drawing on examples of good sex throughout literature—is welcome instruction."—A.M. Homes

"Read it because it will teach you everything you need to know about writing good fiction, whether your characters are having sex or having breakfast."—Peter Carey

"The Joy of Writing Sex isn't so much an instruction manual on how to do this as it is a license to go ahead and try, with a wealth of suggestions for how to approach the task."—The Women's Review of Books

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Elizabeth Benedict

  • Elizabeth Benedict is the author of four novels, including Slow Dancing, which was a finalist for the American Book Award, and the recently published Almost. She has taught fiction writing at Princeton University, the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, the New School for Social Research, and Swarthmore College. She lives in New York City.