Sunday, August 1, 2010

Spider Spin Me A Web

Spider Spin Me A Web: Lawrence Block On Writing Fiction

Spider, Spin Me a Web is an excellent writing book by mystery novelist Lawerence Block. The book is actually a compilation of articles that he wrote for Writer's Digest way back in the 1970s. I’ve never read anything by Lawrence Block other than this, not being too interested in the mystery genre as a whole, but if the writing in this book is any indication of Mr. Block’s usual style I would be highly tempted to check his fiction books out. His writing is smooth and comes off as simple though it has a surprising complexity. Also, many parts in this book are downright funny, especially when Mr. Block addresses his fictional class room.

Entertainment aside, Spider, Spin Me a Web provides excellent writing advice on everything from implementing flashbacks to finding your best time to write to living on a writer’s income. Though Mr. Block writes mysteries, this is a good book for any kind of genre writing and a great source to get a good fundamental grasp of fiction. It’s a great book for beginning writers and also a great book to keep coming back to both for inspiration and fun.

I think one of the most interesting aspects of the book is that he likens the art of crafting fiction to that of a spider spinning a web. Says he:

“If a writer of fiction is in need of a totem animal, I submit that he might do worse than consider the spider. The humble arachnid spins his web out of his own guts, makes it a work of art and a masterpiece of engineering, rests comfortably within its confines, and uses it to snare his dinner.

Even as you and I?

For where else does fiction originate? It comes from deep within, and we do not merely spew it forth. No, we construct it with art and with craft. And, if we have done our work well, it shelters us and feeds us.”

Write your guts out, Mr. Block.

What are some of your favorite writing books?