K – Kinesics

My A to Z Challenge theme is teaching you how not to write a book, or a short story, or any piece of creative writing whatsoever. For more information, including links to previous chapters and lessons, please refer to this post. Now buckle in and proceed with…



Billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle is tired of living the jetset life of champagne, bucking broncos, kilts, fast cars, and burning bundles of cash for warmth. Desperate to find meaning in his life, he retires to his family’s isolated cabin in the wilds of New Jersey, on the shores of majestic Lake Latrine.

There, Hawk plans on self-reflection and pursuing the great love of his life—fishing. However, Hawk’s self-imposed loneliness comes to an end when he makes a most unusual companion and fishing buddy.

Dropsy Velvet was once a young woman living on the shores of Lake Latrine with her settler family. However, a curse turned her into a mermaid and now she lives, sad and alone, in the depths of the lake. She hasn’t had human contact for close to fifty years, thanks to everyone either being terrified of her or thinking they’re drunk when they see her—but Hawk may be the connection to the world she’s been craving. Charmed by her innocent face, sparkling wit, and huge bare breasts, Hawk decides to help her find a way to lift the curse, as she will lift his: the curse of ennui and affluenza. But time is running out, for something sinister wants to flush Latrine away forever.


That evening, Hawk dug a pit on the beach and built a fire. He then fried up the fish he’d caught. The scent of charred seafood filled the air, an odor that reminded him of his childhood days on the rodeo circuit with his father. There was nothing like a big old fish fry beneath the painted desert sky after a hard day of taming bucking broncos.

Dropsy stretched out on the sand. She twitched her tail and gritted her teeth as she watched Hawk slough the scales off with a big bowie knife and dig the fish’s guts out. She winced as he threw the skinned fish on the fire and they sizzled. She wrinkled her nose and her eyes watered as the scent of frying fish filled the air. Poor girl, she had to be starving. She probably lived off plankton and seaweed at the bottom of the lake.

Hawk stretched out on the sand next to her as the fish cooked and raised his eyebrows at her in his best come-hither look. He laid on his side, propped on one elbow, and struck his best model pose. That always got the ladies frisky for him.

“Wait a second.” Something dawned on him. “Does eating fish make you a cannibal?”


Kinesics is the interpretation of body language, facial expressions, and nonverbal cues people exude in everyday encounters with each other. These indicators can be as important in writing as they are in real life—they can say a lot about your character and about what they’re going through and what their emotional and mental state is. Using descriptions of body language and facial expressions is a way to accomplish that popular writing adage: show, don’t tell. You can show a lot about what’s going on in someone’s head using just a few words.

If your other characters don’t pick up on these cues, that can say a lot about them, as well. Just make sure it’s believable, because most people instinctively pick up on nonverbal indicators whether they realize it or not. It’s just how we’re wired. It’s part of what makes us human. Of course, if your main character is a self-absorbed nitwit who cooks a mermaid fish for dinner, it shows us exactly the kind of person he is when he doesn’t interpret her cringing correctly.

Author: Megan Morgan

Paranormal and contemporary romance author.

28 thoughts

  1. Ah! It wasn’t a good idea 😉

    I love body language in storytelling. In fact, I love it so much, that I write too much of it. When I edite, I normally have to cut on it – quite a lot.
    Yeah, it’s true, body language can be Tricky because the reader could interprete it in a different way than you meant it, but on the other hand, if you don’t use it, it feels kind of weird (at least to me), because we are so used to have those cue in real life, we just expect them.

    I think Dropsy’s body language was quite eloquent. In fact Hawk (as a true hawk) picked it up… eventually 😉


    1. I seem to have the same problem. When I go back and edit I find the characters are doing too much fidgeting and moving around, in an attempt to show how they’re feeling or what they’re thinking. I have to remind myself those things are well and good, but I can show it through dialog as well!


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