Weather Thesaurus Entry: Rainbow

WEATHER is an important element in any setting, providing sensory texture and contributing to the mood the writer wishes to create in a scene. With a deft touch, weather can enhance the character’s emotional response to a specific location, it can add conflict, and it can also (lightly) foreshadow coming events.

However, caution must accompany this entry: the weather should not be used as a window into a character’s soul. The weather can add invisible pressure for the character, it can layer the SCENE with symbolism, it can carefully hint at the internal landscape, but it must never OVERTLY TELL emotion. Such a heavy-handed approach results in weather cliches and melodrama (a storm raging above a bloody battle, a broken-hearted girl crying in the rain).


Sight: A multi-colored arch, sometimes bright and clear, sometimes faint and fuzzy. Rainbows can vary in size, from single and double ones that cross the sky, to smaller ones around waterfalls or even beneath the spray of a sprinkler…

Smell: n/a

Taste: n/a

Touch: n/a

Sound: n/a


Mood: Rainbows in the sky aren’t something you see everyday, so the sight of one is like a gift. This is why some people feel happy, optimistic, or even lucky after seeing one. Rainbows usually occur …

Symbolism: God’s promise, diversity, gay pride…

Possible Cliches: rainbows as signs of good luck, rainbows at the conclusion of a story to signify a happy ending…

OTHER: The rainbow is basically what happens when water meets light; the light is spread out into its spectrum of colors so the observer can see it. Rain or some form of water (mist, a fountain, a waterfall, etc.) must be present, and the sun should be behind the observer when facing the phenomenon. When we see a rainbow, we are seeing the place where light and water meet. We can’t see the water that is below the horizon, which is why the rainbow’s arch always seems to stop there. The higher we are above the ground, the more the rainbow can be seen, as evidenced in this picture of a rainbow taken from an airplane. No clue why that would be relevant to anyone’s story, but it sure is cool.

Don’t be afraid to use the weather to add contrast. Unusual pairings, especially when drawing attention to the Character’s emotions, is a powerful trigger for tension. Consider how the bleak mood of a character is even more noticeable as morning sunlight dances across the crystals of fresh snow on the walk to work. Or how the feeling of betrayal is so much more poignant on a hot summer day. Likewise, success or joy can be hampered by a cutting wind or drizzling sleet, foreshadowing conflict to come.


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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Becca Puglisi
9 years ago

Do rainbows smell like sherbet?

Angela Ackerman
9 years ago

Hi Aithne,

There’s a share bar right below the post by the Google +1 button, and you can share right from there 🙂 Thanks for the visit and comment–I like the idea of a rainbow having a smell and taste–how cool would that be?


9 years ago

Always find your posts fascinating. Wish you had a Tweet this button.

This post also opens my eyes as a paranormal author because I’d love to create the other senses you have marked as n/a. lol

I’m over the rainbow to factor this into a story. ;D

Stina Lindenblatt
9 years ago

There’s nothing more spectacular than a double rainbow. 😀

Martha Ramirez
9 years ago

What a beautiful rainbow ( ir two, I mean lol). Great post, Becca!

Bish Denham
9 years ago

Oh! Rainbows! What I wouldn’t give to see a rainbow!

Lisa Gail Green
9 years ago

That is a cool fact about being seen better from up high. 😀

9 years ago

A rainbow is indeed a gift!! Thanks for sharing. I will use this in my next wip for sure!!

Carrie Butler
9 years ago

What a fun topic! It reminds me of this rainbow guide I saw awhile back. It was a little too technical for me to fully grasp, but I found it interesting. 🙂

…Okay, so I just liked the pictures. *grins* Anyway, enough rambling from me. Great post!

Jeff King
9 years ago

Great pic… and post!

Angela Ackerman
9 years ago

*pulls Becca out from under her rock and dusts her off*

Becca Puglisi
9 years ago

LOL. I’d actually never heard of that video. I googled double rainbow, and there it was.

I’m so hip.

The Golden Eagle
9 years ago

I’ve seen double rainbows a few times; but all rainbows are pretty amazing to see!

Matthew MacNish
9 years ago

Double Rainbow FTW!

Julie Musil
9 years ago

When my family sees a rainbow, it’s so exciting! We live out in the boonies, so we’ve seen some really cool ones. Like double rainbows. Awesome post ladies, as always

Angela Ackerman
9 years ago


Oh come on now, someone had to say it! 🙂 Good one, Becca!


Karen Lange
9 years ago

I agree, a rainbow is a gift! When we see them from the front porch of our home, they are often double ones. It’s really a treat. Thanks for another great entry!

9 years ago

I’m going to channel my middle school daughters when I say this: OMG! I so totally need a rainbow in my story!
Another good one–thanks! 🙂