Posted January 2016

What's the Big Idea?


“No one ever looks at a tree and wonders, ‘Which is the trunk and which are the branches?’” says Frank Flaherty. “That same clarity should hold true for themes, too.” In this 1-hour webinar, non-fiction and journalism expert Frank Flaherty discusses the proper handling of the “big idea” of an article -- its theme. Many overstuff their articles, so that identifying the theme takes some hard detective work. In this lecture, Mr. Flaherty will show that, like the trunk of a tree, theme should be unmistakable.

Event Materials

Theme: What's the Big Idea?

Frank Flaherty discusses the importance and role of theme, as well as how to find one when preparing to write. Leave yourself additional time to do the writing exercise part-way through. To extend the exercise, try it with other events or subjects. Audio runs about 56 minutes.

About Lecturer

About Frank Flaherty

Francis Flaherty worked for 19 years at The New York Times, serving as a columnist, editor, and deputy editor. Today, he is on the adjunct faculty at NYU and Columbia. He is the author of "The Elements of Story: Field Notes on Nonfiction Writing" (HarperCollins) and has written for the Atlantic, Harper's and others.