I'm a writer. I have written (and continue to try to write) scripts and screenplays. I have also written (as of this post) 100 blog for my personal site (that's not counting the dozens for my political blog and movie review blog. I have attempted to write about four novels. I started the first one when I was eight years old, and I still haven't finished it.The main problem with writing a novel is that better writers have already used most of the great ideas. Especially for some one like me, who reads voraciously, watches a couple of movies every week, and several hours of television, it's hard to write something original. This difficulty is compounded by the fact that while bad novels seem to be bad in different ways, good novels are have a lot in common. So, if you're planning on writing the Great American Novel, here's a checklist of things to include. 1. Moral, Ethical or Emotional lessons. -- Sure you can write a story about vampires and werewolves, or spies and secret agents, but at its heart it needs to be something people can connect with. Tell their story in fantastic terms. 2. Beautiful scenery. -- One of the benefits of writing an American novel, is that we have a big country. And every section looks remarkably different than the next. Set the novel in a fascinating environment. This doesn't have to be limited to Las Vegas, New York or New Orleans. I've read novels that make St. Louis and Cincinatti seem exotic too. 3. Colorful Characters. -- ...and alliteration if possible. Sure your hero has to be pretty broad so that many different people can identify with him/her, but all those supporting roles should be the most memorable people you can come up with. It's the supporting characters that make a literary world real. 4. Humor. -- Even if you're writing the above mentioned werewolves and vampires or spies and secret agents, don't forget to make it funny. Life is funny, even when it's sad. Don't leave the humor out, it'll feel hollow. 5. Sadness. -- We could pretty much just say vice versa on the above rule. Let's say that you are attempting the next "Fletch" which is laugh out loud hilarious. Make it funny, but don't be so busy looking for the next laugh that you miss important character moments or don't delve into the reality of characters emotions. Make 'em real, that makes them funny. It just occurred to me that I am totally giving away the kind of info I should charge for. Damn, another money making oppurtunity down the drain. Oh well, now I have to write the Great American Novel. See, I have written myself into a corner, this causes tension, action and perhaps humor. Damn I'm good.