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."
"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