How important are the words ‘So What?’ in an autobiography?

An autobiography is an account of a person’s life written by that person.  An individual can add whatever they choose into their autobiography, but if a person decides to cater their autobiography to their own wants without considering the reader, their autobiography may not achieve very much success.  When someone begins writing their autobiography, they need to establish a main focus, or a theme, and they need to make an effort of not to straying away from that main focus.  Significant achievements are structured around this initial theme.  Autobiographers can still discuss their daily lives, but it is critical that they make clear their end goal (the bigger picture) as they go through details of their day to day life.  One of the most important rules for writing an autobiography is that it must be interesting to the readers, if it does not do this, then what is the purpose of it?

Here is what it comes down to, time is valuable, and the average person wants to preserve their time and invest it in the best way possible.  If an autobiography is scattered and filled with irrelevant bulk, no sane person will want to invest their time in reading it.  When one is writing about a specific event, place, or speech, they need to ask themselves “So what?” Did it really earn its place in the autobiography?  If it did, there needs to be an explanation why, the reason(s) why should match up consistently with the original theme.  If something has a crucial effect on one specific person, chances are, it will not have the same value to most other people, so the writer needs to give valid reason as to why it has worth.  Go to the roots of the issue, why is this a monumental item in your life?  Answer that, then ask, “So what?” and “Who cares?”

If one wishes to give long descriptions of something, fine, but they need to say why.  Why is this relevant to the narrative? Why did this specific item have an impact on the writer? What was it about this item that became a turning point in the writer’s life?  After all, it is a book about the writer, these questions need valid answers.  Why is this relevant to the reader?  The material should give the reader insights, if not insights into the life of the writer, then it should give the reader insights into the culture around the writer.

“So What?” is a critical question that should be asked continually throughout the process of writing an autobiography.

The conclusion chapter of an autobiography should summarize how the autobiographer achieved their main life goal (the focus), and if that goal was on achieved, then the writer should provide the account of how they substituted, or moved on.

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