The Great American Novel is not just any novel. Any novel could tell a story; Any novel could have dozens upon dozens of product placements. The Great American Novel has to tell the greatest of all stories; place the greatest of all products.
Furthermore, and not a bit too soon, any novel can bring a strong man to his knees, crying over the powerful tragedy of the tale. But only the Great American Novel can make that same man howl in pain over the immense emotional overtones of the tale, and make him curl into a ball, crying for his mommy.
This is the guide to writing the Great American Novel. ...yeah. I know.
There are some people out there who will say that the Great American Novel has already been written. I say to thee: NOT TRUE, and NOT TRUE do I say to thee. No book has ever been great enough to be as great as the Great American Novel has to be: In fact, no book can be. Or, at least, no book written by people who aren't Jesus. How does it feel to fail before you even tried? How does it feel to fail in front of Lady Liberty?
It has to bring tears to the eyes. It has to make readers and critics burst into tears. It has to be sad enough to make soldiers throw down their guns in disgust (but pick them up again, of course). It has to be sweeping in its depressive qualities. Good lord, it has to be sad. Oh, oh Jesus. It has to include a powerful, but broken, old man who's retarded son-- no, no wait-- retarded family has to etch a living out of the cruel soil of Kansas-- no, no wait-- Oklahoma.
It has to be inspiring. If we, the public, just wanted a sad book we could burgle the local emo kid's house again. We don't want to do that: there's weird stuff in there. Instead, make the family eventually overcome every struggle put in their way. Like that weird patriotic Emo music that kid makes the lyrics to in his diary, the Great American Novel has to be heroic and crushing at the same time. It may sound impossible now, but just wait till you're writing it: you'll claw your friggin' eyes out. You make me sick.
Make sure that the characters say something patriotic at the end of the book. Oh, oh, make the main character holding an American flag and looking at the sunset at the end! that'll make those poor morons down in Kansas drool. He (of course the main character is a "he") should say something proud and impressive.
|"Mary Mae," Louis said, sweat on his brow and blood on his American Flag lapel-pin, "I think we may have made it." Louis looked off in the distance toward the horizon and the distance, respectively. Louis's knuckles were white as he clenched his NRA-approved shotgun-slash-American-flag and looked into the distance, hoping to see something inspiring. "Through all our harrowing adventures, we may just have made it." Louis grabbed even more strongly to the thick, long, manly pole of the American Flag and began speaking again in his thick Kansan accent, "We may have made it."|
The Great American Novel can't be written in a day. It can't be written in a year. It can't really be written until it's twenty times longer than you think it really should be. I know that you only want it to be 20 pages, but that's not a novel. That's, like, the Great American Brochure. Why do you always complain when America's on the line? You make me SICK.
The Great American Novel must start from humble origins, so start on some awful writing medium or torture yourself in some other way. Written on sandpaper in purple ink in complete darkness in the laundry room, The Great American Novel has to be written tortuously and slowly. Absorb the true American values that are dripping out of this novel. Feel its power through your suffering.
I want you to keep writing until you can't hold yourself up anymore. I want you to keep writing until you curse America and everything it stands for. I want you writing until you commit suicide. Ooh, nice angle! That'll be your selling point: Commit suicide.
Adding to your suffering will be the endless series of metaphors you'll include in the book. America deserves loads of metaphors and impossible to comprehend double-meanings. Make sure the metaphors refer to normal, everyday things, like love or some shit like that, but make it impossible to decipher. Try to nest the metaphors within each other for extra bonus points. Remember the golden rule of writing: If they can't understand it, they'll assume it's great just to be safe.
|Louis reached for the salt SHAKER, which tipped over and spilled its contents onto the OAK table. "Oh, what a MISFORTUNE," winked Louis to the reader. "What a misfortune that it would spill right near my copy of the GRAPES OF WRATH." Just then, Louis remembered it was time to milk the chickens, but thought that farmwork was what the reader expected him to do, and so sat down staring meaningfully at you.|
There are very few topics worth writing about for the Great American Novel. The topic has to be sweeping and vague. If it's not sweeping, how could it be great? If it's not vague, how could people think you're a great writer? I know you want to be specific, but neither this novel, nor America, was written in a day. Why do you always want the easy way out when Lady Liberty is crying out for help?
People Struggling Against All Odds
The basis for all America-type books is people struggling. However, they can't just be struggling against something lame... like grandma... they have to be struggling against EVERYTHING. Everything is going wrong with these characters you dream up. The crops won't grow, grandma won't LEAVE, and tax season is upon them again.
These people will struggle and struggle until they completely fail. Then, for the next 400 chapters (yes, 400 chapters), they will re-examine their lives from a different perspective and finally find the answer.
|Realizing that Louis had been tricked into buying a farm where nothing could grow, Louis, with manly tears in his eyes, let the dirt slip through his fingers. Prostate1 on the ground, Louis let out a manly squeal to the heavens: "AAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!" Louis said. "AAAAHHHH, NOOOOO!! GOD NOOOO!" Just then, Mary Mae ran outside in her plainest, bluest dress and said to her heroically screaming husband: "Doc says that Jebediah got a case of the cancer!" Louis, crouched on the ground in the fetal position, let out a masculine scream: "AAAAAHHHHHH KILL ME NOW AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!". As Louis lay there, totally unable to cope with the realities of life, a man in a clean-pressed suit came up the driveway. "Sir, the bank is repossessing your house." Louis, on the verge of losing his cool, promptly tore off his clothes and ran around the front yard screaming. "AAAAAAHHHHH AHHH AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!" ...This family will SURELY be struggling against all odds.|
1Yes, it says "Prostate". And no, that's not a typo. Just one of the many, many, many adversities that must plague your characters at every single turn.
The American Dream
What is the American Dream? Obviously, the Great American Novel has to include The American Dream. It has to include it at least in every paragraph, if not in every sentence. Everyone knows about the German Dream of world domination and the Swiss Dream of chocolate and cuckoo clocks. But what is the American Dream? Is it what makes us American? It is your job as the writer to describe it to us.
|Louis had been curled in the fetal position for four manly days before he stood again. It was dusk, and the setting sun's orange rays made Louis's manly profile stand out against the gray, darkening sky. Mary Mae, who was bathing a pig in the kitchen sink while gazing at Louis' manly manliness, felt that manliness stoke the fires of her heart. Louis continued staring, and gritting his teeth, and clenching his fists, before he starting clenching his teeth and gritting his fists. He looked forcefully into the orb of the sun and proclaimed: "GOD I'm hungry. Jesus christ! I haven't eaten anything for FOUR MANLY DAYS."|
People Struggling Against the American Dream
Sadly, some writers are confused and don't want to have only one theme for The Great American Novel. You cannot do this. You have to have them struggling and learning about the American Dream, not both at the same time. You're so god damned STUPID. Why do you always have to be such a retard, when Lady Liberty is over there, calling for a hero?
How can you just sit down and write the Great American Novel? Nobody writes a novel as great as the Great American Novel: you have to suffer it. There are many ways to get inspiration for the best novel ever written. Instead of using drugs, which are for hippies, get your inspiration by plowing the fields; throwing bales of hay into a barn during the depression; working in a horrible, depressing job... all of these are suitable for you. Afterwards, spend a few hours staring out a window waiting for inspiration, and you'll be all set.
A suitable source of inspiration is the True American Bible™. Don't forget to swipe a few passages from it while no one is looking. In fact, maybe just copy most of the Bible to your story. Make The Great American Novel a metaphor for Jesus and all those other people.
|Louis gathered his starving family around the campfire, True American Bible™ in hand, and quoted Leviticus 26:29: "...And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat." Louis then looked at his sons and daughters differently the rest of his days.|
America is the greatest fast-food-chain-slash-defender-of-justice-slash-superhero ever created, and you as a filthy, non-rich writer have a duty to inform people of that. You can't just sit down and write about poor people all day, you have America to honor! So why don't you put down the god damn Cheetos™ and consider the three American Dreams.
To prove to the rest of the world that we're right.
America has been pushed around a lot in our day. I'm not suggesting that America has ever lost a war, but we sure have gotten close. America realizes that it's not our fault that we aren't loved all across the world, it's the damn foreigners.
If America's Dream is that everyone realizes we're right, America's Nightmare involves foreigners. Just thousands and thousands of foreigners jumpin' our fences and takin' er writin' jobs. They're all in ski masks, robbing our liquor stores and joining gangs. It's just like those foreigners to do stuff like that. They never liked me since I started referring to "black people" as "gang members."
To be both thin and able to eat as much as we want.
If we ever learned anything from Leviticus two or three sections above, it's that we Americans should be able to eat anything we want. It's true that the bible doesn't mention Americans by name, but that doesn't make the holy book any less holy. The bible, and the world, want us to eat as much as we want without gaining a single, solitary pound.
Make sure you make the family in your book really hungry as opposed to really fat. Make sure Louis and his family -- you're gonna call him Louis, right? -- are continually starving. Of course, by the end of the book they have become rich and are treated to a banquet by someone famous. A list of suitable American heroes who could hold a banquet for your family includes Ronald Reagan, Jerry Falwell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, among a few others.
Winning and success at everything.
Every single American has within HIM the power to succeed. It isn't just the rich people who can make money: poor people could make money too, if they just threw aside centuries of racism and the fact that they don't have any money. That's what this book should really be about, other than the fact that Americans should eat many things.
The family in the book should be poor. Really, really, pathetically poor. They start out with absolutely-fucking NOTHING. By the end of the book, the family is living the average American dream: swimming in a pool of champagne. Just chapter after chapter of them swimming in champagne. ...All because they pulled themselves up by their bootstraps via trickle-down economics and conquered the whole damn world.
|Louis turned to his family one last time and said, "Family," he said, "we've been through a whole shitload of trouble. Thanks to my fatherly wisdom and ingenuity, we've pulled through AND MORE! Hard Work™ and voting Republican really works! Thank God we didn't ask a single soul for help!" The family sat quietly for ten seconds... then a tremendous round of applause rocked the stadium.|