Minimum viable product


I have been thinking about minimum viable product and its relevance to writing.

The minimum viable product is a product with just enough features to gather validated learning about the product and its value.

The idea is to develop the simplest product possible to avoid excessive costs and risks while deciding how to develop the product further in the best possible way. At this point it should be possible to see whether or not the product is a good idea. This way you can avoid spending a lot of resources on a product that doesn’t work as you hoped it would.

In writing we have plotting. One reason to plot is to learn whether the story is going somewhere we are interested in following. But I don’t think a plotted story is the same as a minimum viable product.

To me, it seems that the minimum viable product would be the story idea. The one thing that the story can’t survive without. Take it away, and you story goes with it. Change it, and the story changes.

I have become aware of two things lately. Firstly whether or not my story idea is good enough to make the work worth it. And secondly, what the core of my story actually is. What I can’t change without it changing the story.

Maybe a minimum viable story could be a condensed text concerning the main idea. A short story or other form of text that pins down what it is all about. And if that text is interesting on it’s own, there may be potential for a longer story.

Next time, before I sit down to write a first draft, I’ll try this. I will write a short text about the main story idea to check if is has potential. If it turns out good, I’ll continue by adding conflicts and secondary plotlines.

If it turns out that it doesn’t have potential, I’ll have saved a year of my life to write something better.

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