Nova Writes Competition
for Unpublished Manuscripts

The Nova Writes Competition for Unpublished Manuscripts supports the development of emerging Nova Scotia writers (as well as established writers exploring new genres) who have not published books in the categories they choose to enter. All entrants receive written comments on their manuscripts, and prize winners are invited to read at the Celebration of Emerging Writers in the spring following each competition period.

Established in 2017, Nova Writes currently accepts entries in five short-form categories: short fiction, poetry, short creative non-fiction, writing for children/young adult fiction (an alternating category), and French-language short forms.

Any writer working on a book-length manuscript is encouraged to submit an excerpt. Any established writer may contend in a category so long as they have not published a book in that genre. Any previous winner of a Nova Writes category may no longer enter that category.

Entries are accepted annually in each of the following categories:

  • Budge Wilson Short Fiction Prize ($250 prize)
  • H.R. (Bill) Percy Short Creative Non-Fiction Prize ($250 prize)
  • Joyce Barkhouse Writing for Children Prize / Young Adult Fiction Prize ($250 prize)
  • Le prix Félix Thibodeau de la forme courte (prix: 250$)
  • Rita Joe Poetry Prize ($250 prize)

Assessment of all eligible entries to Nova Writes is conducted by jurors recruited by WFNS for their professional expertise as writers, editors, booksellers, librarians, or teachers. Jurors are carefully selected to provide a balance of literary skills and experience appropriate for each prize category. 

To help ensure impartiality during the assessment and feedback process, each entrant chooses a pen name (or pseudonym) under which to submit their entry.

Jurors for each category assess all entries, provide comments, and collectively select a category shortlist, winner, and (if appropriate) any honourable mentions. They assess entries for their originality, creativity, and quality of writing, and the comments returned to entrants may appraise form, structure, plot, and a wide range of literary techniques.

Comments on entries are returned to entrants by email.

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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