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Spider Spin Me A We [Paperback]

Lawrence Block
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 17 1996

The craft of writing is a lot like spinning a web: You take threads and weave them skillfully together, and only you know where this intricate network of twists and turns begin and how it will end. Now, with Lawrence Bloock's expert advice, you can learn this art of entrapping your reader in a maze of facinating fiction.

Spider, Spin Me a Web is the perfect companion volume to Block's  previous book on writing, Telling Lies for Fun and Profit, which Sue Grafton noted "should be a permanent part of every writer's library." As helpful and supportive as always, Block shares what he's learned over the course of writing over one hundred published books: techniques to help you to write a solid piece of fiction; strategies for getting a reader (or editor) to reaad--and buy--your book; ideas for increasing your creativity and developing an environment that will nourish you and your craft.

Spider, Spin Me a Web is a complete guide to achieving your full potential as awriter.


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The short essays included in Spider, Spin Me a Web were culled from Lawrence Block's long-running monthly column about fiction writing for Writer's Digest magazine. Block, an incredibly prolific mystery writer with more than 50 books to his name (at one point he was writing more than a book a month!), employs a funny, conversational tone in addressing issues of technique, career strategy, and living the fictioneer's life. He uses the analogy of the fiction writer as web spinner to hold the many threads of his book together. "The writer of fiction," he says, "is a spider. Drawing upon his inner resources and shaping them with his craft, he spins out his guts to trap his dinner." Block strikes a realistic balance between writing for oneself ("write what you yourself would most identify with, write honestly and unsparingly and fearlessly") and writing with readers in mind ("I try," he quotes his colleague Elmore Leonard as saying, "to leave out the parts people skip"). Though Block's success has been mainly as a writer of mysteries, his wisdom applies to all fiction writing; in fact, he is suspicious of the whole concept of genre writing. "For all that their guidelines attempt to codify their requirements," he confides, "I have heard no end of editors say that the manuscript they most hope to find on their desks is the one that breaks all their own unbreakable rules--but that grabs them so hard and moves them so much that they have to buy it anyway."

Review

"It takes the steady hand of a cool pro to monitor the erratic pulsebeat of New York City...Block has the offhand grace to make it look easy." -- -- The New York Times

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource for writers May 25 2000
Format:Paperback
Along with Block's _Telling Lies for Fun and Profit_, this is a book I've found indispensable over the years. It's not only tremendously helpful and encouraging for me as a writer, but it's also, like all of Block's work, sheer fun to read. Block's writing on writing is particularly engaging because he gives the impression of addressing a friend and colleague, offering the benefit of his experience for what it's worth, without talking down to his audience or intimidating with a judgmental list of must-dos and must-nots (like some tyrannical authors of books on writing). Block never condescends, and he always acknowledges that writers work in different ways (sometimes, in fact, different books work in different ways), so that the would-be writer feels free to take away only what works for him or her, without obligation to learn to write The Block Way.
While I find _Telling Lies_ even more helpful during the writing process, _Spider_ offers a fuller menu for the writer: not only does Block address specific tools of writing like foreshadowing, mining life experiences, and background information, but he also tackles some bigger issues about writing routines, marketing one's work, what to expect from editors, and the best ways to become successful. He also gives solid practical advice on more "advanced" writing issues for those who have established themselves and may be facing specific dilemmas regarding ghostwriting, living on a writer's income, and other realities of the writing life (not forgetting the harshest reality: rejection). And for those in a philosophical mood, he looks at the writer's mindset: how to set a writing goal, how to achieve it, and even how to determine what kind of writer you are.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The first line, says it all Sept. 20 2001
Format:Paperback
Those who can, write. Those who cannot, write about writing. That is the first line in the book. I think Block is an excellent fiction writer. Enough said.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource for writers May 25 2000
By Dr. Amanda DeWees - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Along with Block's _Telling Lies for Fun and Profit_, this is a book I've found indispensable over the years. It's not only tremendously helpful and encouraging for me as a writer, but it's also, like all of Block's work, sheer fun to read. Block's writing on writing is particularly engaging because he gives the impression of addressing a friend and colleague, offering the benefit of his experience for what it's worth, without talking down to his audience or intimidating with a judgmental list of must-dos and must-nots (like some tyrannical authors of books on writing). Block never condescends, and he always acknowledges that writers work in different ways (sometimes, in fact, different books work in different ways), so that the would-be writer feels free to take away only what works for him or her, without obligation to learn to write The Block Way.
While I find _Telling Lies_ even more helpful during the writing process, _Spider_ offers a fuller menu for the writer: not only does Block address specific tools of writing like foreshadowing, mining life experiences, and background information, but he also tackles some bigger issues about writing routines, marketing one's work, what to expect from editors, and the best ways to become successful. He also gives solid practical advice on more "advanced" writing issues for those who have established themselves and may be facing specific dilemmas regarding ghostwriting, living on a writer's income, and other realities of the writing life (not forgetting the harshest reality: rejection). And for those in a philosophical mood, he looks at the writer's mindset: how to set a writing goal, how to achieve it, and even how to determine what kind of writer you are.
Altogether, _Spider_ is a refreshing combination of down-to-earth conversation about the nuts and bolts side of writing and serious thoughts on the more elusive questions liable to bedevil the writer. It's a great resource whether you need a pep talk to get started, find yourself bogged down during your writing, or just want to get the perspective of a lively mind on the whole writing life. I advise every fiction writer to keep a copy on her desk.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How To Writers Book July 21 2003
By iqhope - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book was written by one of the most prolific writers of our age-Lawrence Block. While I haven't read many of his fiction books, I have read a few of his 'how-to write' books.
He does have a conversational tone in his 'how to write' books, so you have to plow through a lot of verbage to get to the good points. I think that was basically to flesh out the book to bring it up to 250 pages.
If you can read fast and get through the extra verbage, this book does have some very good points to keep in mind when writing a book of Fiction, which if you use, would make your own story more interesting.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book That Should be in Every Writer's Library Jan. 6 2013
By James D. Best - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
When I transitioned from writing non-fiction to novels, I probably read a dozen books on writing fiction. Now, every three months or so, I pick up a book on writing to remind myself about the basics or to pick up an advanced tip or two. Most of these books I breeze through because they are pedestrian rehashes of the same basic advice.

Spider, Spin me a Web by Lawrence Block breaks from the pack. Originally written in 1988, it is not only filled with solid advice, it's fun to read. The book is actually a series of magazine articles by Block, which means the narrative is not straight-line, how-to instructions. Nonetheless, the organization, deft editing, and lively writing make it more cohesive than most books of this sort.

Spider, Spin me a Web appeals to me because it is filled with truth and treats me like an adult when it address basic issues. Some may say the comments on the publishing industry are out-of-date, but this is a small part of the book. This is a book mostly about the writing craft, and the advice is timeless.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT PRACTICAL ADVICE! Sept. 23 2012
By E. E. Justice - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a professional writer, I am always looking for new viewpoints on all aspects of my craft. No one I've read communicates the nuts and bolts of writing more authentically, clearly and entertainingly than Lawrence Block. Read this and also read his book on writing the novel. No b.s., just the facts from a guy who's been doing it in multi-genres for over half a century and making a living at it. Lawrence Block is The Man!
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! April 9 2013
By R. Hawk - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Lawrence Block does it again! A work of pure genius by a master craftsmen of world renown! I especially liked the part about the puppies.
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