Monday, January 2, 2012

Rewriting a Fairy Tale for the Christian Market by Gail Sattler

Happy New Year, writers! Ever tried to adapt a fairy tale into a modern-day story, or tried to rework it for a Christian audience? Gail Sattler has a new release coming in March entitled Seattle Cinderella, and she's here to share her tips on reworking those timeless stories for the inspirational market. Enjoy! ~ Annette

Rewriting a Fairy Tale for the Christian Market
by Gail Sattler

To rewrite a fairy tale for the Christian market can be a challenge because most fairy tales use magic or spells to make the story happen, and taking that out will drastically change the story. But in order to be true to the fairy tale, that story must be adhered to, or it’s not the same story. Sometimes it can be a simple substitution, but the reader must find a parallel telling of the original story or they will be disappointed. The writer has to come as close as possible without adding magic, to make the story happen in a realistic way. Since I’ve just rewritten Cinderella – Seattle Cinderella ( is coming out in March 2012 – I’ll use that for my example.

It’s almost an oxymoron to use the phrase “suspension of belief” when rewriting a fairy tale. For the Christina market, the writer must take something unrealistic from the fairy tale, and make it believable and realistic. But because people know and love the original fairy tale, that which was the suspension of disbelief is what is considered true and real. Then the Christian writer must take something unrealistic and change it to being realistic, which becomes the suspension of belief. I hope that made sense.

The key to rewriting a fairy tale is to stick as closely to the plot as you can, keeping the same key story points as a primary focus.

It was an easy substitution to change the horse and carriage to an orange taxi-cab when she escaped from the ball at midnight. The harder part was that the reader expects her to flee at midnight, which is a key plot point. The trick was to make a realistic reason for her to flee at midnight. As well, in a contemporary setting, the prince is bigger and stronger, and faster, than our heroine. Why doesn’t he catch her? All these details must be worked in realistically, knowing that the realistic element is the suspension of disbelief.

Likewise with other plot points. Whatever the reason they happened in the fairy tale, parallel plot points must be made to follow with the original story that fit into a contemporary setting.

Once you have figured out how to make the reader accept the parallel, the rest is just story.


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. Learn more about Gail and her writing at her website. Watch for her anthology, Seattle Cinderella, coming in March, 2012 from Barbour Publishing.


  1. I enjoy these types of adaptations in movies etc. Why not in the Christian book market? Good for you!

  2. Thanks for the tips, Gail! I’ve always loved fairy tales and especially gravitated to them as a child. There’s obviously something about them that keeps drawing people in. The stories have been told and retold over many years. And now the TV series Once Upon a Time has a following—and I’m one of the fans!


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