Join me in welcoming Ann Ambrosio who shares her love for setting as character in writing.
Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Terry. The location of your story can set the mood and I like to “feel” the place before I write about it. I grew up in the Saratoga Springs, New York area and naturally place much emotion there; that’s why I like to have Saratoga as a setting for a story. I’d like to tell you a little about Saratoga Springs.
Saratoga has a long, rich history. It’s where an important battle took place during the Revolutionary War and where the British General Burgoyne surrendered. Perhaps that’s why I feel a freedom loving spirit in that area. It was first settled in 1776, and it was incorporated in 1819 as a town. It’s now a city of about 26,000 residents and the population swells in the summer with visitors.
During the Revolutionary War Native Americans brought a wounded British soldier to a spring in Saratoga to bathe his wounds. They felt the waters had medicinal properties. Interest in the springs spread through America and Europe.
In the 19th century, spas sprang up and Saratoga became a playground for the famous and wealthy from all over the world to party and gamble in the summertime. Big, beautiful hotels were built. The Grand Union Hotel, on Saratoga’s main street, was the largest hotel in the world at the time. Casino gambling was popular as well as the famous Saratoga Racetrack. In winter, people could be seen covered with blankets, sitting in large rocking chairs on the porches of Saratoga’s large hotels, absorbing the rays of the sun.
The Adirondack Northway, an extension of the New York Thruway, was completed in the 1960’s, making Saratoga easy to reach from the New York City area. It is also on a direct route to reach the Adirondacks and many people visit both during summer vacations or winter fun. It has become a popular place for the arts as well as for the mineral waters and baths. The Saratoga Performing Arts Center, or SPAC, was built and became a summer home for the New York City ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Skidmore College, in the city, emphasizes the arts and has summer arts programs including writing.
In recent years filmmaking has become popular in Saratoga and parts of movies, including The Horse Whisperer, The Way We Were and Ghost Story were filmed in and around Saratoga. Much credit is given to Mrs. MaryLou Whitney of Whitney and Vanderbilt fame for keeping the city popular and vibrant. She has worked very hard and given much time and money to keeping the spirit of Saratoga alive.
Although all the famous, big hotels are gone now, there are still some large, beautiful Victorian homes in the city that were owned by famous people. A state park holds many of the effervescent springs, and the “Spouter” geyser. Museums, the arts, the racetrack and history as well as the rolling hills and fresh air make Saratoga great place to visit, as well as a colorful setting for a story.
Wherever you set your story, try to "feel" the place with your senses and set the mood for the reader. It's probably easiest to write about a place that is deep in your memory so you can bring out these memories for he reader to enjoy. It might be a sunny beach or a spooky old Victorian house. If you feel it, so will the reader.
For more about Ann, you can visit her blog at http://annambrosio.blogspot.com