Come Here Often?

I may be dating myself (not literally…I am married after all!) but I’ve never forgotten the skit from Saturday Night Live called The Roxbury Guys. If you haven’t seen it, imagine these guys on the left lurking in the corner of every bar in America. Imagine them running their slimy little hands along your shoulder as they speak the words, “Come here often?”

Yeah, I shivered just writing that. The point of this sketch (in addition to making me howl on the floor in laughter every time I saw a guy like this in a bar) was to show how NOT to woo a woman.

Now she might be mortified to learn this, but  when I was reading Betsy Lerner’s The Forest for the Trees, a line from it made me think of these guys. The line was this:

“Wooing a reader involves a certain amount of courtship, though one of the greatest mistakes a writer can make is to behave like the literary equivalent of a suitor who comes on too strong.”

The point is that you cannot start your book with the assumption that the reader likes or trusts you or your main characters. You need to prove yourself first. Show that you’re nice. Trustworthy. Do the literary equivalent of buying them a martini before you try to feel them up on the dance floor.

Something to keep this in mind when you’re writing in the future. Don’t be those guys; be this one: