Symbolism and Motif Thesaurus Entry: Beauty

Every day we interact with objects, places and sensations that affect the way we think and feel. This can be used to the writer’s advantage by planting symbols in the reader’s path to reinforce a specific message, feeling or idea.

Look at the setting and the character’s state of mind, and then think about what you want the reader to see. Is there a descriptive symbol or two that works naturally within the scene to help foreshadow an event or theme, or create insight into the character’s emotional plight?

Obviously, beauty is subjective. But to make one’s point in a written passage, an author should choose symbols that appeal to the largest audience possible. Because of this, today’s entry will focus on symbols that are more universal.

In Nature:
A rose
Other flowers
A horse in motion
A picturesque view…

In Society:
A pretty face
Long, thick hair
Slender legs
Full lips
Long lashes..

These are just a few examples of things one might associate with Beauty. Some are more powerful than others. A red rose is a strong symbol, and likely will not require reinforcement. However, a tropical paradise might stand for a number of things (isolation, exoticism, tranquility) and may not exemplify beauty on its own. Let the story’s tone decide if one strong symbol or several smaller ones work the best.

Symbolism is a universal language that can add great depth and meaning to your story.

So you can reap the full benefit of this powerful tool, we’ve expanded the entire collection by 70% and integrated it into our online library at One Stop For Writers. Each entry comes with a long list of ideas for symbols and motifs, and we’ve included popular symbolism examples from literature and movies, as well. These entries have also been cross-referenced for easy searchability across all our other thesauri. To see a free sample of the updated Symbolism and Motif Thesaurus along with our other collections, pop on over and register at One Stop.


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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9 years ago

My favorite: “sun shining through clouds” – beauty PLUS hope! Thanks for another great list. – Stasia

9 years ago

Great ideas thanks!

Lydia Kang
9 years ago

What a fun and fascinating post! It’s amazing to see the spectrum of things that “beauty” brings up.

Becca Puglisi
9 years ago

It was very interesting, seeing the different ways people view beauty and how it’s portrayed across cultures. Makes me want to do an ugly post and see what we find, lol.

Susanne Drazic
9 years ago

Thanks for sharing this. Lots of good ideas.

Conda V. Douglas
9 years ago

Thanks Angela, and a post on beauty is great for Thanksgiving as I for one am grateful for it!

Cher Green
9 years ago

Great blog! You’ve been extremely busy posting since I’ve been here last. I’ll have to spens some time scouting around all the new posts.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Lisa Gail Green
9 years ago

Mirroring the character’s emotional plight through the world around her (or him) is a great tool. And I never would have thought of using a peacock. 😀

Holly Ruggiero
9 years ago

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

I use plants/flowers in my writing as signs, but not for beauty 😉

Stephen Tremp
9 years ago

Great blog! I’m going to save this one. Good writers plant images and clues throughout the story to help guide or temporarily mislead the reader.

Patti Lacy
9 years ago

You go, you wordsmith, you!!!
Fun reminder of SHOW, SHOW, SHOW.

Jan Markley
9 years ago

what a beautiful blog post!

Becca Puglisi
9 years ago

I’m so glad it’s helping. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Angela Ackerman
9 years ago

Aw, you are beyond sweet, Emilia! Thank you for visiting and I wish all you guys a Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂


Emilia Plater
9 years ago

This is awesome! I’ve used your blog so many times in the past and I can’t tell you how useful it’s been. Today for Thanksgiving… I want to thank you a million times for all the work you and Angela put in! <3

9 years ago

Great suggestions!

The Golden Eagle
9 years ago

Thanks, and a Happy Thanksgiving to you, too! 🙂

Interesting post on symbolism–and a very helpful list!