Tech startups often introduce to market with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), the cheapest and easiest-to-build version of a new product that carves out its functional niche without crashing. If people find this first release useful, then the company, investors, and the market know that the product should probably be developed further. The early real-world market feedback reduces risk.
For the entertainment industry, storytelling division, the analog to MVP is the Minimum Enjoyable Product (MEP). This is the cheapest and easiest-to-create version of the story that people will find worthwhile.
For many stories, the MEP is a graphic novel or other illustrated narrative. This inexpensive format lends itself best to screen adaptation because it tells the story in a visual manner, and can be easily translated into a production storyboard. (Or even basically be a production storyboard.) That’s why so many movies are now adapted from comic books, and why the annual ComicCon has become not just a fan event, but a story scouting trip and testbed for Hollywood.
Treatment and screenplay formats do not work for MEPs, despite their importance under the old Hollywood paradigm, because they are not fun to read. Especially treatments– as short as they are, they demand too much concentration. And full-length screenplays (like novels) are too long to work as “minimum.” People generally don’t read in either format unless it’s part of their job.
With stories that are “talky” and less visually-oriented, you can also employ MEP methodology via short (written) stories, articles, podcasts, and presentations. But illustrated forms are better bets for demonstrating screen potential.
20th Century Stories has started contacting authors about helping to adapt their great stories into graphic novels with screen potential. Stay tuned, and please email any suggestions to: suggest [at] 20thcenturystories [dot] net.