Emerging Writers Prizes

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) administers three prizes for emerging writers, each of which recognizes barriers to literary creation and supports writers as they advance book-length works-in-progress—completing, revising, and/or submitting them for publication—and as they undertake creative writing mentorships and professional training to advance their literary careers.

Writers eligible for more than one prize are required to submit only one submission package for consideration by the Emerging Writers Prizes peer assessment jury.

The Charles R. Saunders Prize encourages literary creation in speculative fiction and in nonfiction by emerging writers of marginalized backgrounds—in short, writing by someone like Charles R. Saunders at the beginning of his career.

The Elizabeth Venart Prize recognizes the unique barriers to literary creation faced by women and other marginalized genders—in particular, the lack of time and space imposed by systems of gendered labour and gendered childrearing.

The Senator Don Oliver Black Voices Prize recognizes the barriers to literary creation and recognition faced by Black and African Nova Scotian writers—who have been and still are marginalized by systemic inequality, including within Canadian publishing.


The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia thanks the following for their generous contributions to the the endowments for the three Emerging Writers Prizes: Sarah Venart and the Venart family (Elizabeth Venart Prize); the former colleagues, literary friends, and readers of Charles R. Saunders (Charles R. Saunders Prize); and the Nova Scotia Department of Justice and BMO Financial Group (Senator Don Oliver Black Voices Prize).

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Recommended Experience Levels

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) recommends that participants in any given workshop have similar levels of creative writing and / or publication experience. This ensures that each participant gets value from the workshop⁠ and is presented with information, strategies, and skills that suit their career stage. The “Recommended experience level” section of each workshop description refers to the following definitions used by WFNS.

  • New writers: those with less than two years’ creative writing experience and/or no short-form publications (e.g., short stories, personal essays, or poems in literary magazines, journals, anthologies, or chapbooks).
  • Emerging writers: those with more than two years’ creative writing experience and/or numerous short-form publications.
  • Early-career authors: those with 1 or 2 book-length publications or the equivalent in book-length and short-form publications.
  • Established authors: those with 3 or 4 book-length publications.
  • Professional authors: those with 5 or more book-length publications.

Please keep in mind that each form of creative writing (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and writing for children and young adults) provides you with a unique set of experiences and skills, so you might consider yourself an ‘established author’ in one form but a ‘new writer’ in another.

For “intensive” and “masterclass” creative writing workshops, which provide more opportunities for peer-to-peer feedback, the recommended experience level should be followed closely.

For all other workshops, the recommended experience level is just that—a recommendation—and we encourage potential participants to follow their own judgment when registering.

If you’re uncertain of your experience level with regard to any particular workshop, please feel free to contact us at communications@writers.ns.ca