Do I focus on ‘the big picture’ or do I fret over ‘the smaller details’? Is it enough if I focus my attention, energy, and efforts on achieving the overall goal or do I need to pay equal attention to all the smaller tasks and milestones that I have to cross before I reach the final destination?
I am sure these are questions that most of us ask ourselves whenever we set out on any endeavor. Ranging from the small mundane tasks such as taking the family out on an impulsive breakfast outing where the decision has to range from the cuisine to be chosen, which determines the restaurant to be visited, which determines the parking space available at the venue, which in turn determines the choice of a four wheeler versus a two wheeler, which further determines the amount of ‘dressing up’ to be done by the whole family. So, while ‘the big picture’ remains the family going out for breakfast, ‘the smaller details’ determine the final decision, in this case, at least.
Let’s talk about how this so called ‘dichotomy’ affects the way we read books and imbibe them. While the choice of the book itself is based on the big picture, ie, book reviews, author reputation, the overall genre to which the book belongs to, what makes the book a good or a bad one for readers remains the smaller details. The character quirks of the main protagonist and the antagonist/s, the setting and the milieu in which the plot is set, the character and plot development, the pace at which the story chugs along, the supporting cast, the tone of the overall book, these are a few of the things that either make or break a book. These are the elements which ensure that a book remains memorable for a long time after it is read, or not.
That being said, there are cases where some books beautifully build up the smaller details and get almost all of them correct, but completely miss out on the big picture. At the end of the book, readers, while suitably impressed and happy with everything else, end up having the impression of ‘there was something missing in that book’ without being able to put a finger on it. The easiest way to know whether a book missed out on the big picture or not would be to try and explain its essence in one sentence using ten words or less. And if that one sentence manages to capture the overall essence of the book, then it paints the big picture for sure.
In one of my recent posts, Second Time Around, I had pretty unequivocally stated that my all time favorite book remains the great epic, the Mahabharata. When it comes to reading this book, it has been my experience that while imbuing the ‘big picture’ of the entire epic, it also helps readers a lot if they pay attention to the ‘smaller details’ as well.
An endless treasure trove of information, this book contains various sub-plots, smaller side stories and memorable characters with interesting back-stories of their own, that one can end up spending quite a few years of ‘reading hours’ on them. Although I had read the Amar Chitra Katha comic book series on the epic and had also watched BR Chopra’s TV series on Doordarshan, it is only in recent times that I have realized the sheer depth of the Mahabharata. And regular readers of my blog can vouch for the fact that it has always been my endeavor to highlight some of the lesser known stories from this epic from time to time.
So, here’s hoping that the smaller details of the Mahabharata continue to educate me and provide you with enough interesting reading material on my blog, while not missing out on the big picture.
This post has been written for the WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts where the idea is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided.
Today’s prompt was “When you gaze out of your window – real or figurative – do you see the forest first, or the trees?” and I took the liberty of interpreting this prompt as a question as to what I see first – the big picture or the smaller details.