The Basics Day

Join us for a day of in person workshops and a panel discussion as part of The Basics course.

In this day of workshops three alumni of the London Writers Awards will teach you the basics of three essential components of writing engaging fiction: dialogue, openings and world building. There will also be a panel discussion and Q&A to learn more about developing as a writer, finding an agent and having a portfolio career.

Join author Tom Newlands for a workshop exploring the ways in which we can transform our writing with engaging, memorable and authentic dialogue. Three dimensional characters are crucial to all good stories, whether in fiction or non-fiction, and using examples from his vivid and expansive debut novel, Only Here, Only Now, Tom will share the secrets of crafting different personalities within your work and giving even a large cast of characters distinct and engaging voices on the page.

In this workshop Paige Cowan-Hall will explore, discuss and analyse the way openings can encapsulate genre, theme, tone and character. Sharing insights from her own experience writing the gothic horror, The Shouts Beneath and using examples from renowned and lesser-known novels and short stories Paige will delve into the art of capturing the attention of a reader within moments and give participant’s the opportunity to put what they learn in the session to practice, crafting openings of their own.

World Building
In this session, Alex Falase-Koya will delve into the art of creating believable and engrossing worlds, be they fantastical or mundane. He will share his insights from crafting the worlds in his novels. He will also guide you through a series of exercises designed to foster a deeper understanding of world-building in fiction and help you develop your own worlds from the ground up.

Each workshop will be 1 hour 15 minutes while the panel Q&A will be one hour. The format will be relaxed with opportunities to take breaks as well as network with the writers and participants. Tea, coffee and water will be provided. Lunch will not be provided.

The Basics Day is intended for fiction writers who are early on in their writing journey.

About The Basics

The Basics is a course designed for early-stage writers looking to make their first steps to write a novel. In May and June Spread the Word ran the following workshops online:

  • Developing Characters with Pam Williams
  • Developing an Idea with Cecile Pin
  • Plot and Structure with Han Smith
  • Voice with Santanu Bhattacharya
  • Self-Editing with Ana Fletcher

Each workshop was recorded. If you wish to see one or all of the online workshops, please contact us at [email protected]. The recordings will be available until 31 October.

Bursary Places

We have 10 free bursary places for The Basics Day available to those who cannot afford the price of a ticket because you are earning less than £23,000 per annum or are in receipt of benefits such as Universal Credit or PIP. Please email [email protected] to request a ticket. Places are offered on a first come, first served basis.

Access Notice

  • If you require BSL interpretation to take part, please email us at [email protected] by Wednesday 31 July and we’ll try to secure BSL interpretation for you. Spread the Word will cover this cost.


  • We’ll send through any reading seven days in advance. We can create adapted handouts to writers attending our workshops and events by request.


About the Tutors

Tom Newlands

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A light-skinned man with short brown hair and spectacles is standing in front of a blurry background of trees and bushes. He is wearing a yellow jumper and orange coat and is looking directly into the camera.

Tom Newlands is a Scottish writer living in London. He is the winner of a London Writer’s Award, a Creative Future Writer’s Award and New Writing North’s A Writing Chance. His debut novel, Only Here, Only Now, was released this summer. Instagram - @tomnewlands_ Twitter - @tomnewlands_

Alex Falase-Koya

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A dark-skinned man with a beard and black curly hair stands in front of a wall covered with plants. He has a neutral expression on his face and is looking directly into the camera. He wears blue glasses and a blue sweatshirt.

Children’s author Alex Falase-Koya has been reading and writing since he was a teenager. His debut novel ‘Marv and the Mega Robot’ was inspired after Alex struggled to find superheroes in fiction who looked like him. By creating Marv, a superhero whose strengths are kindness and imagination, Alex hopes to have created a character to whom all children can relate. He is also the co-writer of Marcus Rashford’s first fictional book, The Breakfast Club Adventures: The Beast Beyond the Fence. A previous winner of Spread the Word’s 2019 London’s Writers Awards for YA and Children’s, Alex lives in Honor Oak with his two cats. Twitter: @AlexFKoya

Paige Cowan-Hall

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This is a picture of a black woman with dark braided hair. She sits in a pale cream room, looks at the camera and is wearing a black turtleneck.

Paige Cowan-Hall is a London-based writer. Her gothic novella, The Shouts Beneath is currently available on Audible. She won the 2023 Discoveries Prize, the 2021 Desperate Literature Award, and was a 2021 Spread the Word Awardee. She is signed with Curtis Brown and is currently working on her debut novel, Marooned. Instagram: @paige_cowanhall