Those two words were scribbled at the bottom of a one-page paper I wrote for a class in my PhD program. That’s it. There was not one other mark on the page. All he said was, “So what?”
I went in to meet with my professor, who is a renowned policing scholar and unbelievably intelligent, yet extremely laid back and down to Earth. So although I was taken aback by his blunt comment, I was curious as to his point. He explained that although my paper was well written, he was left wondering how any of what I said mattered.
*cue shattering glass*
I re-read my paper and by golly, he was right. I explained the important parts but didn’t explain why any of what I said was relevant. Suddenly, I started seeing, “So what?” in everything I read and wrote.
It completely changed the way I wrote. So what’s my point here? The best advice I’ve gotten was to write with the purpose of answering, “So what?”
Every page, paragraph, sentence, and word should explain not just your point, but why it matters. If it doesn’t, delete it or revise it.