Editorial: Voice

If I could guess at our two favorite things at FFO, it would be “strong voice” and “emotional resonance,” which is probably tantamount to saying your favorite things in the world are air and water. Try googling “what is voice in a story” and you’ll get an entire list—word choice, syntax, tone, rhythm, paragraphing.

You know—the sum of everything that goes into writing prose.

(Did you notice I used the word “googling” like I was born last century?)

I even saw “punctuation” on the list, and while that can feel relatively standardized, there is some leeway. Are you vehemently pro-Oxford comma, or did you graduate from journalism school? How many exclamation points do you allow yourself per story (or text message!!)?

Better than a list is looking at examples, which is how I taught “voice” to my colleagues in corporate America. Even after I anonymized sources, they could easily pick out corporate branding from journalism, fantasy from horror, when just given a couple sentences. Most people probably could. This month, try it for yourself with our five stories for May.

For this “voice” issue, I specifically sought out pieces that have a sense of humor woven into moments of emotional connection (we still want our resonance, mind you).

I find comedic voice particularly fascinating because comedy can be as hard to define as voice. Looking up “what makes something funny” elicits another long list that includes such things as the analysis of the funniest consonants and Freud’s theory that humor releases repressive psychic energy.

Perhaps it’s the juxtaposition of the centuries’ old Mortedart with the teenage Sandra that makes Katie Kotulak’s story “Lord Mortedart’s Revenge” both comedic and endearing.

The same might be said for the combination of the sci-fi setting with the heavily accented narrator in J. Autumn Needles’ “The Chicken’s Just Fine.”

Brandon Case’s story “Darkness, Blanket of My Eyes” offers horror with The Three Stooges-level sound effects.

Our reprint story for the month is Rachael K. Jones’ “Midnight Burritos with Zozrozir,” a refreshing take on the deal-with-the-devil plot.

Finally, we have a literary selection for the upcoming strawberry picking season. “Jelly” by Vicki Wilson is the perfect ratio of wit and heart.

Thank you for reading! If you love visuals, I often post issue-specific mood boards and other random jokes on FFO’s Instagram account. If you love music, you can check out our Spotify playlist for this issue. If you just love reading and like what we do, consider becoming a Patreon patron, or subscribing via our independent distributor Weightless Books.