I wrote a review of Elizabeth Berg's novel The Last Time I Saw You back in 2010. After reading the review, my friend Peg Case commented, "Good grief -- can't a book be written about people who are happily married?"
The simple answer, is no.
And now, as I write Book 3, I am reminded of that every day. This is a sequel to Where Love Once Lived which ends with Karen and Brian getting engaged after thirty years of heartache and separation. It took more than eighty-thousand words to get them to this happy place in their lives. Now, I have to start the conflicts all over again.
Without conflict, you wouldn't read the book. And if you did, you'd be able to quit reading anytime you wanted to. There'd be nothing to get you to read on, to learn what happens next. You wouldn't care what happened to the characters.
That makes it even harder to write sequels. Some of you who read Where Love Once Lived have written to tell me what should be in the sequel. You want Liz to get a boyfriend. You want to know what happened to Laura. Did she have her baby? Some have asked how the marriage between Josh and Cindy is doing. I think many of you care as much about these fictional characters as I do.
The logical place to start the sequel is with the wedding between Brian and Karen. After all, we left off with their engagement. But, that's too happy. Not enough conflict. I want you to keep reading. What if the bride doesn't show? What would that do to the happy couple? What if Liz meets the man of her dreams, but he isn't the man he pretends to be. What would she do if she found out?
See what I mean. I can't tell you more now. I don't want to spoil it for you.
If you want to write a novel that keeps readers reading, keep this in mind: Every scene has a goal that is never achieved.