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Decimation Log #1 - The Story I can't Talk About

It's been a while since I posted on the blog, so I thought it'd be nice to update on what I've been working on. The problem? It's a spoiler for my previous story, Ruination. So, this is your warning: If you haven't read my most recent novel and don't want to be spoiled on any of its plot points, turn back now!

... alright, now that those guys are gone, I can talk about Decimation freely... to a point. It is book two of a planned trilogy of thrillers, and focuses on a company discovered near the end of Ruination by the protagonists: Deo-Tec Solutions.

The story follows a recent Business school graduate, Jobeth, and her stumbling into a cushy office job at Deo-Tec. While she hopes to iron out the wrinkles in her life with the routine of a boring office position, she gets a lot more than she bargained for with zany co-workers, demanding clientele, and a dark secret that she and all other employees are forced to keep under threat of legal action. Jo makes good money at Deo-Tec and begins to improve herself, but will the stresses of her new job cause her to fall apart before she can reach the big-time?

That's about all I'm comfortable with sharing about the plot. I have mentioned in previous posts that Decimation was my original idea for what eventually became Ruination. The funny thing was, whenever I would describe the plot outline to friends or family, they would automatically assume that it was a psychological thriller. So, I decided to combine that aspect with an entirely different idea that came to me in a dream: A man on the verge of finding a cure to cancer who suspects that someone is out to stop him from releasing it. That, combined with a real potential cancer cure in the pipeline, made for great story material. The idea was to take something plausible and make it the focus of the story, and I'm happy with how it turned out. That's something that Michael Crichton, my biggest writing inspiration, would do for his novels.

Decimation, on the other hand, will focus less on psychological aspects or real-life discoveries being translated over to fiction. Instead, I want it to focus on more abstract ideas. How far is too far when it comes to self-improvement? Who has the authority to dole out punishment on bad people? Do they themselves become bad if they dish out the punishments without consequence? How does group-think affect our decision making? The story will explore these concepts while also having commentary on materialism, expectations of others, and societal pressures that I feel are not often talked about.

The first half of the story is meant to almost be a black comedy before settling into thriller territory. I am nearly at the halfway point, but I've written more words than I wanted to. I'm at 65,000 and I'd prefer to keep the story under 110,000, or maybe even 100,000 (Ruination was around 97,000). The thing is, I have introduced over a dozen characters and gone in-depth on the structure of Deo-Tec as a company, but sometimes less is more. I will probably need to cut back on these characters and descriptions, and hopefully that brings the story down to a more reasonable length.

One last interesting tidbit is that Decimation takes a lot of focus off of Ruination despite being a sequel. You may remember that in previous posts, I mentioned how I wanted Ruination's plot to be nearly all subtext and for it to be up to the reader to find the answers. I didn't end up going that route; not entirely, anyway. My hope is that whatever wasn't answered in Ruination can be answered in Decimation without directly referencing it. I want readers to think, "Oh, so that's how it happened!" The 'aha!' moment without me ever having to point it out. So, in a way, I get to include that subtext that was cut from the first story. That's the plan for now.

I'm not sure how much more I can reveal without giving the story away, so maybe I'll leave it at that. It's frustrating not being able to say much. Partially because I want to get a read on how people feel about the idea of Decimation's plot. It will be done in a way that I've only seen one other story attempt before, so I'm not sure how readers will react. I've been trying to ask friends and family that I know for a fact won't read the story, but maybe that's not so helpful since they don't have interest anyway.

At any rate, I should get back to writing. One thing I've been trying to do since the start of May is write at least 1,000 words a day. I've looked at it as a challenge, and the results have been great so far. There hasn't been a post-release hangover like the last few times I released books. If it continues to work well for me, maybe I'll write a blog about that, too!

Soon, I'm going to start advertising Ruination on book promotion sites. You may remember that I did this for Gold Fever and posted the results in sales push blogs. I'm thinking of doing the same thing again, except for Ruination this time. My strategy has changed quite a bit since those blogs. In short, I want to get some reviews and don't care at all about sales or pages read, yet. I'll go into more detail on the next blog, which I imagine will come out before the end of the month. So, until next time, happy reading/writing!

- Jim

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