Kinesthetic Imagery in Literature: 50+ Literary Examples

‘Show, don’t tell’ isn’t just a phrase to embellish your writing. It’s a way for readers to connect with your characters and the story. It’s a way for the readers to be around them and in the midst of the story. It’s a way for the readers to live the story your characters are living and you lived as the author of it.

Now, we often find ourselves in the dilemma of how to show more and tell less, or at least maintain a balance between the two. Each writer writes to improve and weave the stories for the world to get lost into and come out as if it lived them.

Sensory Imagery in Literature

Well, this is done through ‘Sensory Imagery’. Sensory imagery works by engaging a reader’s five senses (sight, smell, sound, taste, and feeling) with concrete details that allows them to create vivid imagery of what is happening. 

Show Don’t Tell Examples.
Sensory Imagery in Literature

Through a combination of sensory imageries, authors arm the readers with information that gives them the pleasure of arriving at their own judgements through perceptual clues. 

If you’re one of them, bookmark this article that has over 300+ Show Don’t Tell Examples. These sentences are completely at your disposal. You can use them in your writing as they are. (Just put us in attributions, it’ll make us happy).

Before I begin, understand that there are 7 different types of imagery in literature:

Types of Imagery in Literature

 imagery literary examples
tactile imagery literary examples
  1. Visual
  2. Auditory
  3. Olfactory
  4. Gustatory
  5. Tactile
  6. Kinesthetic
  7. Organic 

Kinesthetic Imagery in Literature

Kinesthesia is used as a poetic device that gives a feeling of natural, or physical bodily movement or action (like breathing, heartbeat, and a pulse).

Kinesthetic imagery is the representation of the actions and movements of an object or a character. William Shakespeare used anesthesia in his works:


“This sensible warm motion to become
A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
In thrilling region of thick-ribbed ice…”

Measure for Measure, by William Shakespeare

(Measure for Measure, by William Shakespeare)

Above, Shakespeare presents the phrases “warm motion,” and “clod” as kinesthetic imagery.

Kinesthetic Imagery Literary Examples

It is mostly used as a poetic literary device. And the writers incorporate Kinesthetic imagery to show movement, motion or action in their writing.

  1. Beating of heart
  2. Breathing
  3. Being on cloud nine
  4. Walking on the lone path
  5. Slithering in the alley
  6. Loitering and wandering
  7. Swaying to the tunes of the song
  8. Flipping the pages
  9. flickering and twinkling lights
  10. Blinking away the sleep
  11. Batting her eyelashes
  12. Dragging oneself ahead
  13. Flapping the wings
  14. Rummaging through the drawers
  15. Toppling over the heap of clothes
  16. Hurling abuses at him
  17. Slinging the rope on his shoulder
  18. Riding the horse
  19. Tossing away the pillow
  20. Throwing the ball/ stone in the river
  21. Water gurgling on the shore
  22. Water lapping in the sea
  23. Drizzling
  24. Dribbling
  25. Jerking her head in his direction
  26. Running his hand through his hair
  27. Trailing her fingers on the sodden pages of the book
  28. Galloping horses
  29. Startling events
  30. Fear creeping up
  31. Raising a brow
  32. Creasing forehead/ sheets
  33. Pursed lips
  34. Nibbling/ Chewing/ Nipping/ Nicking
  35. Clenched/ Tightened Jaw
  36. Wrinkled/ Crinkled nose
  37. Faking a smile
  38. Twisted truth/ lips/ mouth
  39. Spirits lifted
  40. Glittering sky
  41. Eyes sparkling/ gleaming/ glistening
  42. Fidgeting fingers
  43. Fiddling with the bracelet
  44. Rubbing palms together
  45. Clenching fists
  46. Raking hands through the hair
  47. Stroking the chin
  48. Scratching the beard
  49. Shrugging
  50. Throwing hands in the air
  51. Jutting out the lip
  52. Ducking beneath the table
  53. Spurted clouds of steam
  54. Water gushing down the river
  55. Unquenched thirst
  56. Twinkling stars
  57. Retreating steps
  58. Nearing home
  59. Wounding heart with a smile

I understand there is also a thing called ‘too much showing’. And to maintain a balance between too much showing and too much telling, we, the writers, need to know the scenes where showing is required and how much we should show. The above-given examples are completely at your disposal. Do make their use and your writing impressive!

Now that you have a thorough understanding of literary elements to use in your own writing, it’s time to put your skills to use! The only way to do this is to practice and actually sit down to write.

Before you leave, check out these 15+ examples on Visual imagery to empower your ‘Show don’t tell game.’

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