The Analog Couch

One of the myriad of tidbits learned from the Vegas workshop was a concept called “The Analog Couch.”

Now, I’m not sure if this term is common among fiction editors or if it was just the editors on that particular panel (I’m a newbie to this whole publishing thing, remember). I’m not even sure if it needs to be capitalized. So when the phrase crept into the manuscript critiques, I picked up on it, made note and kept listening.

Then it happened to my manuscripts. Twice.

I started asking questions. What is this couch they speak of? Is it a real thing? Is it editor lingo? Am I supposed to know about this piece of furniture? Everyone around me seemed to understand and go with it, nodding heads in understanding, and I’m sitting in the back of the room going, “What did I miss? Help me out. Clueless Newbie Alert!”

Of course, I’m the clueless newbie who was too stymied by terror to raise her stupid hand for fear of asking the stupid question, “What is this magical, mysterious sofa?”

Is it like that couch in “Friends” where they all gathered at the Central Perk coffee shop?

The one the Golden Girls fought and bickered on with the wicker base and floral cushions?

Or is this thing more like a therapist’s couch? A “lie back and let me dig around in your head” deal.

Turns out, it’s like all three.

It’s where readers go sit and think after they get kicked out of a story. The story’s logic is broken. The scientific premises may be flawed. There’s information flow issues.

They sit and they think, and they dig around in the mud of it, and sometimes bicker and sometimes laugh.

The analog couch is the place readers go when your fiction world causes them to pause or stop reading and say, “Now wait a minute. I don’t think that works. What about…” and they start analyzing the crap out of a story element. They sit on this couch (figuratively speaking) and think.

And they may never go back to the story. And that’s the problem.

Writers should write in a way that readers never ever want to put down the story and go sit on a couch of any fabric or pattern and think.

But I did that. Or Little Miss Muse did that. We did that. Several times.

She and I. Well, we broke science and forgot about logical information flow. And we didn’t even know there was a couch.

I guess as a movie-watcher/television-show consumer I do that thing where I stop watching, or I pretend to watch, but my brain gets hung up on something that seemed off. Sometimes I’ve hit the pause button and yelled at my husband about how utterly ridiculous the story was…

I know I do that when I watch the news. Hopefully, in the case of current events, you do too. The information flow seems off. No one can spell logic. And, usually, somewhere someone has broken science or at the very least, broken all sense of common sense.

*Insert enormous eye-roll here with a long, drawn-out sigh*

So I was familiar with the feeling, if not the actual couch.

As far as manuscripts go, now we know. Little Miss and I. And I care. I care a great deal and will try to write and proofread in such a way that the readers’ needs come first. Do things make logical sense? If they don’t, is there a purpose to it that serves the story?

Little Miss? She doesn’t care. She thinks its fun to break things and hide information and blow this up and tip that thing on its head. She’d break science all day long and do so illogically and with great glittery glee.

I Googled “Analog Couch” in various forms before writing this blog.

I Googled it real good.

And found nothing about this concept.

I got answers to how far should I place my couch from my television. I got deals from major retailers on all kinds of sofas, sectionals, and recliners if I ordered within the next four hours. I was even presented with a plethora of textbooks on digital and analog communication systems. Written by someone named “Couch.”

But this concept? Nope.

So I’m still not sure where the term originated. Maybe someone could comment on the Facebook feed and give a link to a source.

And as I continue my proofreading of the stories from this one-a-week challenge, I’m now acutely aware of this Analog Couch. And I’ll try to keep the readers off of it.

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