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for Unpublished Manuscripts

The Nova Writes Competition for Unpublished Manuscripts supports the development of emerging Nova Scotia writers (as well as established writers exploring new genres) who have not published books in the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 Prize / Young Adult Fiction 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.

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Recommended Experience Levels

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) recommends that each workshop’s participants share a level or range of writing / publication experience. This is to ensure each participant gets value from the workshop⁠ and is presented with information, strategies, and skills that suit their current writing priorities.

To this end, the “Recommended experience level” section of each workshop description refers to the following definitions developed by WFNS:

  • New writers: those who have been writing creatively for less than two years and/or have not yet been published in any form.
  • Emerging writers: those who have been writing creatively for less than five years and/or have some short publications (poems, stories, or essays) in literary magazines, journals, or anthologies.
  • Established writers/authors: those with numerous publications in magazines, journals, or anthologies and/or a full-length book publication.
  • Professional authors: those with two or more full-length book publications.

For “intensive” and “masterclass” workshops, which provide more opportunities for peer-to-peer (that is, participant-to-participant) feedback, the recommended experience level should be followed.

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