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for Unpublished Manuscripts

The Nova Writes Competition for Unpublished Manuscripts supports the development of emerging Nova Scotia writers (as well as established writers exploring new genres) who have not published books in the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 manuscripts 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 contend in that category.

Entries are accepted annually in each of the following categories: 

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

How does the competition work?

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

To help ensure the impartiality of readers and judges during the assessment and feedback process, entrants choose a pen name to accompany their manuscripts.

Reading teams for each category assess all entries, provide comments, and produce a shortlist for the prize. 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. Following the same criteria as the reading team, a judge for each category evaluates the prize shortlist to determine a winner and, if appropriate, any honourable mentions.

Readers and judges have the same prerogative as any reader at a publishing house, which is to stop reading any manuscript whose first few pages are rife with spelling and grammatical errors. The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia reserves the right not to proceed the adjudication or awarding of any prize category should (a) the number of entries received not be high enough to ensure a competitive process or (b) the entries received not meet standards of quality in the opinion of the readers or judge. The decision not to offer a prize for such a category is final and at the discretion of the WFNS. However, feedback will still be offered on all entries in that category.

Competition readers remain anonymous, and the decisions of reading teams and judges are final. Entrants are not permitted to contact readers or judges to request additional feedback or expand on the feedback provided.
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