Day 28- The Body Talking by Neha Mediratta

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We communicate with more than words...let's explore that today

The Prompt

Write a short story describing your character’s inner reactions/emotions/thoughts to outside events entirely through body description.

Use this ending for your short story. “After he signed the papers, he stood up slower than usual. He almost limped away from the desk and into the corridor.

No, that’s not it.

His head hung to the left a bit, his whole torso’s weight shifted to the right leg for longer than the left one, as if was lugging around a log of wood attached to his left calf. His left knee didn’t bend. His arms, usually swinging, hung limp.”

Steve Maxwell, a fitness instructor, says: “People’s bodies are exactly what their thoughts are.”

Including the body’s reactions to outside situations is a great way to develop depth in characters. It creates a more immediate connection with readers (since they can absorb a lot of implicit information through such descriptions) and makes your writing more effective with just a few details!

How can we show defeat (like in the ending shared above) or anger or love or excitement/fear through body reactions of characters?


Neha Mediratta

Neha is a generalist currently obsessed with stretching, mind-body-world connection and the spirit’s dwelling place. She writes fiction, non-fiction, takes on editing assignments she enjoys and works with people she admires. She lives by a lake in an overcrowded coastal city with her family and some wildlife. Check out her writing here

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21 thoughts on “Day 28- The Body Talking by Neha Mediratta”

  1. I didn’t get much past the brainstorm stage for this prompt, but I have a pretty solid idea. A fighting couple is inexplicably transported from a produce section to an otherworldly garden. It is good to be reminded to write with all the senses.

  2. This was a surprisingly useful prompt in that it helped me with two issues I struggle with—ending stories and embodying narrative. I ended up with a 1,300-word short story about a possessed millionaire who is permitted to sell off his demons to willing hosts.
    Day 28 ✔

  3. This is a piece from my (current) novel. I am delighted with this exercise. I needed to slow down the thought processes of my character. This is what I wrote:

    My body relaxed when Agnes tucked the stick beneath my arm. I leaned hard, grunting as my back spasmed from too long sleeping on the ground. The slashes on my legs pulled as I tried to take a step. I could just see Agnes flinch as I stumbled. With enormous effort, I righted myself. I can do this, I thought to myself, my lower lip clenched firmly in my teeth. I knew I was kidding myself, thinking I could make it all the way down the path. Snaking tree roots, and peeping boulders, all camouflaged by the dusting of snow, lay in wait to trip me. I took a step, then another, every slash cramping, every stitch pulling, every ache, every drop of sweat. Step, by step, by another, I made my way down the path. My bladder threatened to burst, but I would not yield. I pushed myself forward, ignoring the pressure on my belly, the spasms in my legs and back, the push of the stick against my armpit. I will make this! I will! One more step, then another. Oh no! A rock in my path. Step gingerly around. A root, twisting before me. Step one side, then over. I could feel Agnes watch me as I worked. Before me, the door of the outhouse. I had made it. I took a deep breath, raised my leg up, pushed against the stick, clutched the doorway, and push/pulled up the single step. I had made it!
    I turned, about to sit. Agnes stood at the end of the path, grinning in delight. I grinned back at her, before the immense chore of closing the door confronted me.

  4. I used this prompt to finish the story I wrote for the will prompt. Man, how helpful this prompt was to do that. As soon as I began writing down my character’s feelings in a tactile way, he came alive. I hadn’t really finished the will story because I couldn’t see yet how to do that but this prompt just made what would happen with my character seem natural. The guy in my story overworked to please his dad, then gets zero recognition in his dad’s will. It all helps my character see what he’s been doing with his life and why he feels so bad physically. The prompt paragraph happened to fit perfectly for my ending paragraph, too.

  5. I’m yesterday’s prompt I wrote my characters ex mother in law putting my character in her will. Today was a continuation of that. I just changed the “he” to “she” and ended it with the mother in law walking away from the lawyers office. I have not been keeping track of all of my word counts because I hand write. But I probably have a total of over 15,000 words for the month.

  6. They say to write from experience, but I embroidered a little. My MC, short on sleep for days, wakes up from a brief nap with cramps in both legs. (Sleep deprivation can do that to you.) He gets out of bed with difficulty, and learns that you can’t stand when both your legs are cramping. When he falls he gives himself a nice bruise in the middle of the forehead. He becomes aware of how he must appear if anyone were observing him, and starts to find it very funny. Lots of bodily sensations to play with. Third person limited POV. About 700 words.

    1. I think we can underestimate the physical experience (as people who spend a lot of time in our heads) and yet it adds so much…

  7. Thank you! It was fun to develop characters through their body language! Great prompt! I just finished writing about a successful proposal and my mind is now filling with how two bodies would reflect other emotions in successful and unsuccessful proposals whether for marriage, business, or mischief!

  8. Thank you, Neha. What a great prompt and lesson. Short on time today, I started writing without knowing anything about my character. Within 10-15 minutes I learned so much about him and his background. It was amazing how everything I wrote pulled me towards the ending. The story was a total of 357 words about a man selling his family farm. I can’t wait to go back to my novel and apply this technique.

  9. (Another interesting prompt again making me try out something for the first time.
    I am not sure if the line : No, that’s not it – is really a part of the concluding paragraph though. Enjoyed it very much.)
    A Marriage Made in Hell
    “You should have let me go long ago. But no, you won’t do that. You want to make me dance to your tune like a puppet,” Lovely was livid, still hissing and bent on hitting back. Som, his heart pounding, didn’t say anything and just kept looking down at the blood on the back of his hand – blood he had rubbed off the corner of his lips. The murderous look in his eyes made his three-year-old daughter, Misti, put her hands tightly around her mother.
    “If you put your hand on me again,” He spat out at Lovely,” I’ll break your neck……”
    Misti started crying louder. Lovely, quaking inside, held her tight, with tears coursing down her cheeks.She never thought her marriage would be a living hell like this……

    Lovely and Som were classmates at MSIT. Both of them felt drawn to each other not because they had so much in common or the compatibility factor but because of their opposite nature. While lovely was the youngest of her three sisters, Som was the only son. Lovely’s looks made you stand and stare at her even in a crowd, Som, handsome in his own way, had one fault, if it could be called a fault at all. He limped in the right leg because of cerebral pulsy (CP) in his childhood.
    They became the best of friends in the last semester of their BCA Course. On the night of the College Fest, Lovely helped Som from tripping down by holding his hand. From then, they bared their heart’s to one another or so Lovely thought.

    On their wedding night, Som, lying in bed with his hands folded under his head, watched his new bride sitting up beside him. Lovely, with her oval-shaped face, her curly hair parted in the middle, those doe-like eyes filled with love and contentment, was busy taking off the jewelry one after another. Turning on his side, his right cheek in his right palm, Som lifted his left hand to the new bride’s chin. With a smile on his face, he pulled her towards him next.

    “From now on, you are all mine.” Saying this, he hungrily kissed his wife on the lips.

    That set off their first act of love-making. While Lovely fell asleep soon afterwards, Som had his eyes wide open till the early hours of the morning. At around 9, when someone knocked on the door, he got up to answer the door. Only then did he hear the shower running in the attached bathroom.

    It was Rina, his cousin, coming up to inform him that breakfast was ready. Whether they would come down or have it served in their room.
    He ambled across the room to the chair and sat heavily down on it – his head in his hands.

    “Good Morning, Dearest. I’m ready.” Lovely looking fresh and ravishing, with the towel wrapped around her hair, wished him longingly.
    Without looking up, Som picked up the towel from the rack and slipped inside.

    Lovely, her hair not yet combed, her face flushed, was still sitting on bed when Som came out.
    “What’s wrong, Som? You didn’t even wish me back!”
    Som scurried up to the dressing mirror and started combing his hair. Lovely was behind him in a flash, putting her hands through his and looking at their reflections in the mirror from behind.
    Having finished combing, Som put the comb down, trying to disengage himself from her at the same time.
    “Som.” Lovely called out to him pleadingly.
    He looked at her then. “Yes?” The dead look on his face frightened her.
    “Have I done anything wrong? Was I a let-down in bed in some ways last night?”
    Som didn’t reply. Lovely knew him too well to drop the subject for the time being even if the Maid came in with the tray.

    While Lovely was eating ravenously, she noticed Som toying with the puris on her plate with the spoon.
    “What’s wrong?” Lovely entreated him again. Then came the outburst. His nose flared, his eyes blood-shot, Som was no more the same person she had fallen head over heels for.
    “Though you told me about your countless boy-friends, you never told me that you were not a virgin. Tell me who all have made love to you till now? Who made love to you first? Was it Suman? Zisan? Dip?….”
    That’s how it started and the same scene enacted day in and day out. But despite the thaws in their relationship, the couple somehow, held on to one another in the hope of time proving to be a great healer in due course of time.

    Nine months after their marriage, when Lovely informed Som, on his return home that she had been sick the whole day, throwing up, Som switched the TV on. He took her to the chamber of family physician much later.
    “Congrats, Mr. Sengupta. I ain’t completely sure till I have the reports but I think Mrs. Sengupta is in the family way.”

    The days following the news, were disastrous for Lovely till her father came to take her to his house for the delivery.
    That night, when Lovely called Som, he preferred to keep silent at the other end before blurting out :
    Tell me honestly once. Who is the father? It can’t be mine.”
    “Why don’t you go for a DNA test if you’re still suspicious?”
    Som just hung up the land phone with a bang.

    That night, Lovely for the first time, felt like throwing herself into the well in the courtyard of her house.

    Things didn’t improve between the couple even after the baby was born and only started getting worse till that scary fight between them. It was on that day, Lovely decided to leave Som for good.
    He made several calls to her, paid asurprise visit to her place only to be shown the door by Lovely’s parents.

    Now, sitting not very far from her in the Civil Court, Som bit into his lip and took the separation papers from the government pleader.
    After he signed the papers, he stood up slower than usual. He almost limped away from the desk and into the corridor.

    No, that’s not it.

    His head hung to the left a bit, his whole torso’s weight shifted to the right leg for longer than the left one, as if he was lugging around a log of wood attached to his left calf. His left knee didn’t bend. His arms, usually swinging, hung limp.”
    The end

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