Arsenal of Words

The Writing of Arthur Klepchukov

Tag: reading

How Writing a Screenplay with My Best Friend Led to Our First Story Publication

Wooden camping table on fire at night; photo by Claus Grünstäudl on Unsplash

What makes a boy grow up to become an arsonist? My first co-written short story, “sparkbirth,” is now published in Down & Out: The Magazine. Here are the opening lines:


When I turned eleven, Mom forgot to buy more birthday candles. So instead of eleven little sticks, I got two. She pretended 1 + 1 made 11, but I knew when I was getting the finger. Funny, she never forgot to buy scented candles that littered our apartment. And I never forgot what a lit candle does to a dark room when I should’ve been asleep.

Read more in Down & Out: The Magazine, Vol. 2, Issue 2

My efforts for “sparkbirth”:

  • ~1,800 words
  • 3 drafts
  • 1 co-author
  • 1 submission
  • no rejections or withdrawals before publication

I had an excellent time working with Rick Ollerman on my 2018 story “A Damn Fine Town.” After Rick published my story in Down & Out, it went on to be included in The Best American Mystery Stories 2019. He encouraged me to submit another story for Down & Out. This was the first piece I’ve written that fit the bill—it wasn’t purely literary or science fiction.

Read on about my process.

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LitQuake 2015: The Art of the Short Story

This weekend I attended LitQuake 2015’s excellent panel, The Art of the Short Story. Thanks to Mark Peterson for moderating Jodi Angel, Tom Barbash, Grant Faulkner, and Siamak Vossoughi. This is a summary of my largely paraphrased notes.

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What Else Can a Poem Be?

The following snippet of Jack Morgan’s review of blinks of awe brings up some fun questions:

…it’s hard to judge his poetry by itself because it isn’t. Are we going to start judging poetry like we do films and plays, where every job is criticized on its own merit? Should I take the sound production on its own and talk about that? We get a lot of new questions from work like this, which might be why Klepchukov made it in the first place.

Jack is referring to the unique qualities of the poetry in blinks of awe: the book lets you see my visual representation of each poem and lets you hear how I feel each poem should sound. How do you judge poetry by itself when other elements are involved? More importantly, do you even have to?

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The Data Hiding Inside Ebooks

I recently met with one of the founders of a startup pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in ebooks. We discussed what impact more technology and better insight into reader behavior would have on publishing. Could books be more like web sites or apps in that regard? Would that be a better experience for readers, writers, and publishers?

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Judging Books by Their Opening Lines

You pick up a book with an interesting title or attractive cover. You flip it over to the back cover, trying to ignore the praise as you hunt for the description. Sometimes you have to crack open the jacket and occasionally the price in one of the corners catches your eye before the description. If you haven’t been distracted or turned away yet, you turn back to the cover, crack the book open, and hunt for that first real page. Does this process have to happen in this order?

No matter how hard I try, I still judge books by their covers. I judge them by their titles too but that feels less guilty since an author has more say in the title than the cover. It’s depressing to think how many good books I’ve missed out on because the cover and title didn’t entice me enough to open them to that wonderful first page. Could there be a way to overcome our biases as readers and find better books that are deserving of our time?

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