Hey everyone, we have a fun interview today with Gail Sattler. Have you ever considered writing a novella? Gail's here to share some tips you'll find helpful. Read on! ~ Annette
Gail, your new anthology releases this month. You wrote all four novellas. Tell us more. Do the stories in the compilation relate to each other?
Yes. The first story is a modern-day retelling of the tale of Cinderella, except Cinderella is named Cindy, and her Prince is Luke Princeton, who owns and operations Like A Prince Car Rentals with his partner and best friend. Instead of being a scullery maid, this contemporary Cindy owns and operates her father’s brake and muffler shop. This Cinderella doesn't wear glass slippers—at work she wears ANSI approved steel-toed safety boots—so at the ball, she loses something else.
The second story is about her first stepsister, Annie, who has reformed and is working on healing her relationship with Cindy. She’s trying her best to make her past wrongs right, but things become complicated when she starts working for Cindy's husband and his partner, Brent. While she’s trying to make things right, everything seems to be going wrong.
The third story is about Cindy’s second stepsister, Zella, who has also reformed. Zella’s mother, Cindy’s stepmother, has not changed her ways, making Zella very uncomfortable. In Zella’s efforts to get away and run her own life, she meets a man who could be her Mr. Right, except he has a secret. And not telling her when the time was right makes him very wrong.
The fourth story is about Cindy’s godmother. Since fairies aren’t real, the Fairy Godmother becomes Farrah the godmother. Farrah is stable and happy, but she is also lonely. For most of her life she’s kept busy, not giving herself opportunity to meet another man to love. When she’s finally ready, time seems to have passed her by. When she meets the man who could be her Mr. Right, she can’t let the same thing happen to him, but he has other ideas.
Should readers read them in order?
Yes. Each story moves on in time from the previous story, so the reader needs to read them in order.
How does one plot for a compilation?
For this, it was easy, I used an existing classic story and picked out the four main women and gave them each their own story. I’ve written other series before, and done pretty much the same thing, and that is to continue on the same lines with a key secondary character from the previous story.
If someone’s used to writing full-length novels, what advice do you have for them for plotting and/or writing a novella?
Novellas are harder to write than most people think. The reader expects and needs a full and interesting story, but that story must be told in less than half the words. Usually there isn’t room for a subplot. My best advice for someone writing a novella is to very carefully consider which scenes are necessary to the plot, and which aren’t, and keep down the description and backstory. The delete button is your friend. I go over word count on every novella I do, then have to cut what isn’t absolutely necessary. Make your plot go from A to B with no detours.
What are some key ways to make a novella compilation proposal stand out?
Have a theme and promote it. Have something unique that is shared by all four stories. Also, the biggest attraction for novellas is that they are a fast read in a fast-paced society. Keep every scene interesting, and be prepared to end it and move on in order to have room for all the scenes you need to make a full story in a short amount of words.
What is the hardest thing about writing a novella?
Keeping it short when you have a whole story to tell. That means keeping descriptions short but not too blunt, and telling the story fast without feeling like you’re rushing or leaving out important details in order to get a whole story into 20,000 words, or whatever the word count is.
What’s the easiest?
Sticking to the basics with description, with plot, and characterization. In longer novels you have to know more, and show more, about the characters and setting. In a novella, you can’t because you don’t have room to expound on those things. I’m not saying you don’t have to know your character or setting as well, because you actually have to know those things better. By knowing your characters better before you start writing, you make the writing easier.
Gail Sattler lives in Vancouver BC with her husband, 3 sons, 2 dogs, and a lizard named Bub who is quite cuddly for a reptile when he isn't eating her houseplants. When Gail isn't writing she plays piano for the worship team at her Mennonite Brethren church, or electric bass for a local jazz band, and in the new year she's going to try out a community orchestra with her acoustic double bass. When Gail is writing, she writes tales of love, always faithful to the happily-ever-after ending readers of romance have come to know and love.
Cinderella lives—except her name is Cindy and she resides in Seattle.
Cindy is forced to run her late father’s muffler shop. Will her step-sisters’ shenanigans and Luke Princeton’s charms only make her life even more unbearable?
Cindy’s step-sister Annie has reformed her ways. But how will she prove it to the man she loves?
Step-sister Zella is writing her own love story. But is she using a poison pen?
Cindy’s godmother, Farrah, has caught the attentions of a younger man. Does she have the courage to love again?
How far will God go to give these each of these women a happy-ever-after ending?