Minimum Viable Writing
Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash
If you’re ever around software startups, you might be familiar with the concept of the MVP. No, not most valuable player. In this context, it stands for Minimum Viable Product. Basically, it’s stripped down and sometimes manually implemented software product that has the main purpose of helping the company learn about what customers want and/or validate a business model.
This is a great way for a company that might not have an existing market to inexpensively see if a market can exist. The same concept can be applied to writing. If you are not an established writer it might not be the best investment of your time to spend four years writing a 250,000 word epic fantasy novel as your first project. Especially if you don’t know if a publisher will take it or if people will read it.
This is why many bootstrapped and beginning authors will write a bunch of short and sometimes interconnected stories that can validate interest without an excessive investment of time and energy. A good example would be Hugh Howey and Wool.
To quote his website directly “The first Wool story was released as a standalone short in July of 2011. Due to reviewer demand, the rest of the story was released over the next six months”
Another similar example is the story “The City Born Great” by N.K. Jemisin. The story was published in 2016. The novel based on the story, “The City We Became,” was published in 2020.
As an unknown writer without a lot of time, connections, or resources, I’m a fan of this approach.