So What?

I have been attending meetings to help with the newly implemented common core curriculum.  In these, we have been discussing how the writing that has been taught for years in public education needs to be modified, and thankfully the days of the five paragraph persuasive essay is going the way of the dodo bird. 

One of the biggest things that is changing is that students will no longer be able to just write why they think something should change, they need to answer the question of “So what?”  This is probably one of the most common comments I write on papers is “So what?”  Why does this matter, who cares, why did you just take the time out of my day to read this?

I think fiction writers need to remember this more.  If I’m writing in a description of a beautiful place, creating a character, introducing a problem – So What?  Why is this place important?  Why the detail of that color over and over?  Why does this character need a massive flaw? 

Sometimes we love our characters, setting, etc. but the reason we love them isn’t conveyed well.  There have been times when I have had a character who has just been flat and I couldn’t figure out why.  I really had to figure out why I cared about this person, and why I wanted readers to care about this person.  My CP’s were laughing at me a bit because I told them I found out a flaw in my character, but that was how it felt, because I took the time I needed to figure out what his so what was.

How can you or have you asked “So What?” to help figure out the nuances and intricacies of your characters, setting and plot?  How does asking “So What?” help you keep writing?

One thought on “So What?

  1. This is such great advice! I know I will be asking myself, “So what?” as I write this week.

    (By the way, I was just told that rather than “Common Core” it's now technically supposed to be called the “Utah Core.” Which begs the question: So what?)

    Like

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