Last month I struggled with the graphical elements for Modern Ruins. (Not my best work, I admit!) This month, however, I managed to churn out my moodboard and preview images in a couple nights. Not to mention, I penned another story, titled “Spellbound”, in just over a week. All with a bloody sinus cold and an ear infection, too. I might feel like I’ve been living in a fish tank all month, but productivity knows no bounds!
In my most recent Patreon post, I shared this month’s writing adventure with you, wherein I attempted to write a story that ended up becoming too big to be a story, and thus, I had to start writing a new story. That story will be this month’s Patreon-exclusive story.
It’s an MLM-based horror called “Spellbound” and I’m so excited to share it.
My previous blog post explains some of my issues with MLM’s, otherwise known as “direct sales” or “network marketing”. The Dream podcast (season 1) is a great place to start for those of you who don’t know a lot about MLM’s. Trust me, it’s a ride of a podcast and it took me down a wormhole of writing inspiration.
The community? The cult vibes? The crappy products? Such FUN! Such story fodder.
This story took me down a deep research hole. There’s this great VICE documentary about the fall of LuLaRoe (the ugly leggings MLM). YouTube def has a wealth of antiMLM content, both educational and hilarious. I particularly like Kiki Chanel’s videos, as well as Munecat’s takedown of Arbonne, and the “MLM Monday” series by Iillumnaughtii.
This Kiki Chanel video features upline Beach Body “coaches” in their “day in the life”, wherein they basically do nothing and “make money” (while also probably buying a ton of product they’ll never sell, but that’s beside the point, right?).
My main struggle with this story was getting my head into the mind of a person wanting to succeed in network marketing. Why? Because MLM consultants (otherwise known as “hunbots” or “huns” are not known for being sympathetic characters. It’s hard to want to root for people constantly posting motivational quotes and cold-messaging strangers, pushing their products at inopportune moments. At the heart of every MLM consultant, however, is a person just wanting to succeed, so I had to peel back a lot of onion layers to get down to the “humanity” of my character.
The most integral research I did was spending a couple late nights reading the heck out of Elle Beau’s Younique experience in a series of 13 absolutely riveting blog posts. This is essential reading if you’re interested in the true MLM experience. It’s beautifully paced and proves an engaging read. Kept me up until 4:30AM one night, but it really put me into that “hunbot” mindset.
Getting research in proved integral when it came to creating my own MLM. Originally I wanted to do something Arbonne-based but I just can’t with diet shakes and weight-loss stuff in general. So, because goth / witchy stuff is, like, so hot right now, I decided to venture down that alley by creating a gothic fragrance-based MLM called SPELLBOUND.
This proved successful and fun, in that I could build up the cult-like vibes while also amplifying the MLM jargon in a way that wasn’t just mimicking the standard cliches of #bossbabe culture and #sidehustle mentality. I managed to create my own little world.
Playing the Villain
Putting myself into that mindset wasn’t as difficult as I first assumed it would be. I feel that I managed to harness the need, the desperation, the drive. A lot of the high-ranking MLM life seems to be about creating the ideal lifestyle that others would want to emulate, and thus, join.
Granted, I did push the boundaries of reality (because this is fiction, after all) but I think my favourite part of writing this MLM story was creating characters who no longer speak like real people. They’re their own breed of “hunbot”, which I’ll admit was uncomfortable to write at first, but after a point it just became fun and enthralling. I got to that point in the writing process where the characters started speaking for themselves.
Exploring New Ground
For the last ten years, I’ve stuck to a pretty standard formula of story-writing. Most of my stories have two characters (usually male and female) and some tight tension (usually sexual). I’ve been wanting to branch out for a long time and I think this story is my first real trek beyond what I’m comfortable with writing.
“Spellbound” has about 8 different characters and a longer length. It’s an experiment more than anything. I’m excited to share it with you all!
Interested in Reading “Spellbound”?
It wouldn’t be an MLM post without me attempting to pitch my own “products” to you. I’m still getting the hang of promoting my Patreon. I’m still hoping to build up a bit of a side income so I can cut my work back to part-time and write a little more.
You’ll be able to read “Spellbound” in March by joining as a $5 Patron. You’ll have access to all my exclusive stories, plus all my bonus blogs, which contain some more personal posts as well as more insight into my writing.
You can also help me build my writing empire with my $2 tip jar as well. Every little bit is very much appreciated and keeps me going more than you can believe. My Patrons keep me brainstorm, keep me researching, keep me up late making graphics and ebooks and everything else. I’m feeling the love and I love all of you.