by Janice McCaffrey

As a fiction writing beginner I’ve had problems building scenes that are compatible with my intentions. Experienced authors and how-to books all say, “Write a draft then rewrite it and rewrite it and rewrite it.” But I still didn’t get it.

Then one day, exercising trust in my friend and mentor, I asked for her critique. She said, “you need more detailed descriptions here, you need dialogue there, your characters need to move within a scene, show emotions through body language, dramatize more.” And she asked, “What is he thinking? Why is she doing that?”

Was I feeling overwhelmed? Yes! But during my next computer session, like magic, I had a vision. A visual in my mind’s eye showing me the process in a way I could understand.


In visual arts layering is done with transparent sheets; a different part of a scene is painted on each sheet. When the sheets are stacked one on top of the other, like magic, a complete picture appears. An artist’s masterpiece.


And as you see, from the example picture, now-a-days this can be done on computer or IPhone.

My mind’s eye saw my draft (the story line) sitting on my desk and floating down onto it a transparency, not with painted objects, but words; words describing setting and character details. A second clear sheet added dialogue. Another gave my characters animation, the next, body language to invoke emotional responses in the reader. Inner-dialogue topped it off showing me a well written scene one layer at a time.

And it continues to work. As I write I visualize each element on separate transparent sheets as I add them one-by-one to my story’s foundation. Remembering each layer keeps me focused and determined to create finished scenes that convey the images, messages, and feelings I’ve intended as I work toward my masterpiece.

February Book News

If that groundhog lived in a Montana valley, there’s not much chance he’d see the sun tomorrow — unless he took a ride up a ski lift where the vistas above the clouds are bright and sunny! We hope the weather is bright and fine in your neck of the woods!

Our mystery writer members, Leslie Budewitz and Christine Carbo, will be headed to a warmer clime late this month, for Left Coast Crime 2016, the Great Cactus Caper, in Phoenix. Three days of fun in the sun—and books, books, books! Mystery readers and writers gather regularly to hear panel discussions, interviews, and talks on crime fiction, visit with old friends and make new ones, and stock up on books! Leslie will participate in a panel discussing food in mystery–always a tasty topic–and moderating a panel on small town crime. Christine will participate in a panel discussing setting as character, a topic well-suited for her, since her books are set in the crown of the continent – Glacier National Park.



Author Susan Purvis  

Sue's Cover image.edA Whitefish Review Event at Crush Lounge (
On Thursday February 11th WHITEFISH REVIEW presents local author SUSAN PURVIS and Fernie, BC author ANGIE ABDOU.
Times: DOORS OPEN @ 6:30PM, READING @ 7:30PM
Susan will read from Hang Fire: Memoir of an Avalanche Dog Handler, her recently completed memoir about training and deploying avalanche dog, Tasha. Susan exchanges her geology rock hammer for a pair of skis, gives up a lucrative salary with maids and expense accounts in the Dominican Republic for a part-time, minimum-wage job as a ski patroller at one of the most avalanche-prone ski resorts in America. She learns about avalanches in and around her new ski resort community that bury and kill people without warning. When patrol admits their trained dog failed to find a toddler buried in a deadly avalanche, she challenges herself, “What if I could teach a dog to save lives?” This quest propels Susan to train the best possible search dog, vowing never to leave anyone

Author Betty Kuffel
Betty Kuffel and Author Playwright Lavonne Mueller will be appearing on the radio show, Birds on a Wire, from Montana Coffee Traders on Whitefish Community Radio in February. This is a documentary series about life in a coffee shop…who, why and006 (2) other. Lavonne, Betty, Tom Kuffel, Sue Purvis, Constance and Brian See, along with Robert FitzGerald, meet as friends and writers most Monday and Thursday mornings at 0830. We discuss writerly things and identify solutions to world problems while eating pastries and drinking great coffee. Join us sometime.