Provocatively titled, Punching Babies (a how-to guide) by Adron J. Smitley is a writer’s reference book that breaks down story structure creation in easy to understand parts and brings clarity to the story structuring process. With a no-nonsense way of explaining some complex concepts, Smitley walks the reader through the essential components of a literary work with real-world explanations and examples.
The insights given in the book allow an author to get not only a high level view of how their work will be broken by down by publisher, editors, and in the end, readers, but also allows a reader to approach literature with a more sharply focused eye – not just in terms of the nuts and bolts of how a book is put together, but in finding new meaning as well. The worksheets included throughout the book allow for analysis in real-time, clarifying Smitley’s approach.
There are a lot of writer’s reference books on the market – which is likely the reasoning for the title, as it’s hard to stand out, and is really the biggest mark against the book. While Punching Babies isn’t necessarily a comprehensive reference (it’s a relatively short book), the information within is concise and eminently useful, especially in relation to scene creation. It’s less authoritative about character development, but in terms of scene and plot development, this book excels.
Though the title may turn some people off initially, Punching Babies has a wealth of information that will most certainly help to fine tune an author’s writing, and even change the way you read or watch movies, as it cleverly unpacks many of the secrets behind the storytelling process.