N's Reviews > The Joy of Writing Sex: A Guide for Fiction Writers

The Joy of Writing Sex by Elizabeth Benedict
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's review
Dec 01, 07

bookshelves: writing, nonfiction, not-on-kindle

If you're looking for a guide on how to write really hot erotica, this is not it.

However, if you're looking for things to keep in mind while writing sex scenes that actually accomplish character development or plot progression, then this is perfect. This was exactly what I was looking for, since I don't think sex scenes removed from characterization or plot can even be that hot. Furthermore, the sex in books is often *not* hot and shouldn't be; it's certainly important to be able to write bad sex well. The author has written a number of sex scenes, and interviews a number of other authors for the book and almost always gives an actual scene from a book to highlight key points. She sets down some excellent guidelines for making scenes relevant and memorable.

The best thing about this book is the way it is organized by types of relationships and circumstances surrounding the sex, and the sort of things characters in those situations inevitably consider. It touches on loss of virginity, sex between spouses, adulterous sex, recreational sex, homosexual sex, incest, other illicit sex, masturbation, and even sex in the age of AIDS. Most of the chapters have examples using both heterosexual and homosexual couplings.

She also touches on how you should refer to certain parts of the body given the circumstances -- i.e. should one say "penis" or "cock" or "prick" or none of those at all a particular this scene -- and how to determine how explicit your scene will be. There are no set rules, but instead various points to consider depending on what needs to be accomplished.

There is also a chapter about how writers feel being the one who has written the sex scene; i.e. "What are my family/friends going to think when they read this?" Of course nothing will change the reactions of other people, but the chapter is comforting because all of the writers managed to get through it someway or another.

There's really nothing more I could ask from this book; it covers everything pretty well. The only thing it doesn't cover that I can think of is rape, but I agree with the author's explanation that rape is really more about violence than sex, even when it comes to the dynamics of writing it.
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