Enter the Competition

To enter the Nova Writes Competition for Unpublished Manuscripts, writers must meet the following criteria.

  • You must be a permanent resident of Nova Scotia, meaning that you have lived in Nova Scotia full-time for at least the past twelve (12) months and that you file your personal income taxes in Nova Scotia. (Out-of-province post-secondary students and seasonal residents are ineligible.)
  • You must be an emerging writer in the form of the prize category you wish to enter, meaning that you have not published a book-length literary project within that form, including all genres and sub-genres within that form and including traditionally published, partner- or hybrid-published, and self-published projects.
    • In the context of Nova Writes, WFNS considers there to be five primary literary forms: (1) fiction, (2) nonfiction, (3) poetry, (4) writing for children or young adults, and (5) writing in French.
    • If you have any number of non-book-length (e.g., periodical or anthology) publications in the form of the prize category you wish to enter, you remain eligible.
    • If you have published any number of book-length or non-book-length projects in forms other than the form of the prize category you wish to enter, you remain eligible.
  • You must be 16 years of age or older by the current entry deadline.
  • You must not be a previous winner in the prize category you wish to enter.
  • You must enter only one manuscript in any prize category for the current entry deadline.
    • You may enter different manuscripts into two or more prize categories for the current entry deadline, but each manuscript requires a unique pseudonym, entry package, entry form, and entry fee.

To be eligible for prize consideration and feedback, a manuscript must meet the following criteria.

  • The manuscript must be the original work of its entrant and unpublished in any form, either traditionally or self-published, either in part or in whole, either in print or digitally.
  • The manuscript must not be submitted or accepted elsewhere, either for publication or for prize consideration, either at the time of entry into Nova Writes or at any time during the course of the Nova Writes Competition adjudication process. (If you decide to submit your manuscript elsewhere during the Nova Writes Competition, you must contact the WFNS to withdraw your manuscript; the Nova Writes entry fee will not be refunded. Once the competition results have been revealed, however, you are free to submit your manuscript elsewhere. You retain copyright of your manuscript entry.)
  • The manuscript must not have previously won or been shortlisted for a Nova Writes or Atlantic Writing Competition prize.
  • The manuscript must meet the specific entry criteria of the prize category you wish to enter, as detailed below:
    • Budge Wilson Short Fiction Prize: Entry (up to 3,000 words) must be a work of short fiction or an excerpt from a longer work of fiction and may be in any fiction genre (historical fiction, literary fiction, mystery, romance, speculative fiction, or otherwise).
    • H.R. (Bill) Percy Short Creative Nonfiction Prize: Entry (up to 3,000 words) must be a creative nonfiction essay or an excerpt from a longer work of creative nonfiction, must be written in a personal, identifiable voice, and may be in any of the following creative non-fiction categories: history, narrative journalism, memoir, personal essay, and travel writing.
    • Joyce Barkhouse Writing for Children Prize / Young Adults Prize: Category alternates annually between writing for children (ages 6 to 12) and writing for young adults (ages 13 to 18). Readers and judges evaluate each entry based on suitability to and conventions of its target age range, with overall excellence being the determining factor in selecting a shortlist and a winner.
      • Writing for Young Adults (2024 Joyce Barkhouse category): Entry (up to 3,000 words) must be a work of short fiction / nonfiction or an excerpt from a longer work of fiction / nonfiction with a target age range that falls fully or partly within ages 13 to 18. Do not include images, but feel free to indicate where they might appear
      • Writing for Children (2025 Joyce Barkhouse category): Entry (up to 3,000 words) must be a work of short fiction / nonfiction or an excerpt from a longer work of fiction / nonfiction with a target age range that falls fully or partly within ages 6 to 12. Typical entries include excerpts from chapter books (for ages 6 – 9) and middle grade novels (for ages 8 – 12). Picture books are not accepted. Do not include images, but feel free to indicate where they might appear. The first page of the entered manuscript must state the target age range.
    • Le prix Félix Thibodeau de la forme courte: Ce prix récompensera l’auteur.e d’un texte littéraire (poésie ou prose–contes, nouvelles, poèmes, fables…) en français d’un maximum de 3 000 mots.
    • Rita Joe Poetry Prize: Entry (up to 1,500 words) must be no more than six poems and may be in any style. For judging purposes, each entry must be given an overall collection title. It is not a requirement that the poems have a thread that binds them, but many of our readers and judges will be looking for that thread as a basis of evaluation. Do not include images of any kind. The first page of the entered manuscript must state the target age range.
WFNS reserves the right to accept (as eligible) or reject (as ineligible) any submitted manuscript. The list of manuscripts deemed eligible by WFNS and conveyed to jurors is final.

Entries must be submitted by the competition deadline. Each entry must be submitted as a single digital document (in .doc or .pdf format) with a file name as follows: Pen Name – Short Name of Prize (where “Pen Name” is a pseudonym you’ve chosen for the competition and “Short Name of Prize” is the shortened version of the prize category in which you are entering—i.e., Wilson Prize, Percy Prize, Barkhouse Prize, Prix Thibodeau, or Joe Prize).

Incomplete, late, non-digital, or misnamed submission packages are ineligible. Please note that your entry is not considered complete until we have received your entry fee.

To help ensure the impartiality of jurors during the assessment process, your real name (i.e., your legal name, the name you commonly use, and/or any name you publish under) must not appear anywhere in your manuscript title, entry file, or file name. At no point in the assessment process are jurors to be made aware of the identity of entrants.  Your real name must appear only in your online entry form, which is for administrative use only.

A. Original, unpublished manuscript that does not contain your real name or any personally identifiable information. The manuscript file must be formatted as follows:

  • Use double-spaced Times New Roman or Arial 12-point font. (Poetry entries may be single-spaced and may use alternative fonts if type design is essential to the work.)
  • Use the A4 (8.5″ x 11″) page size with a minimum 1-inch margin on all sides.
  • Include your pen name, manuscript title, and a page number in the header of each page.
  • If submitting an excerpt from a longer work, you may include a summary of up to 250 words (summarizing the larger work or any relevant plot or context) at the beginning of the manuscript file. Ensure the summary contains no personally identifiable information. No written feedback will be provided on the summary.
  • If submitting to either Joyce Barkhouse Prize category, you must include a statement of the manuscript’s target age range (i.e., “for ages __ to __”) on the first page of the manuscript file.

Due to the volume of Nova Writes entries each year, we cannot personally update entrants on the status of manuscript comments and competition results during the adjudication period. All entrants will be notified of the status of their entries and the results of the competition according to the timeline below. The first public announcement of the category winners will take place at (or soon before) the Celebration of Emerging Writers in late May, and the list of category winners is embargoed information until June.

  • February/March: Category-specific juries assess entries and produce a shortlist for each category.
  • Early May: WFNS notifies all entrants in writing as to whether they have been shortlisted. Each prize judge assesses their category shortlist to determine a winner and, if appropriate, any honourable mentions.
  • Mid May: WFNS notifies all shortlisted entrants in writing as to whether they are prize winners. WFNS returns manuscript comments to all entrants. WFNS publicly announces category shortlists.
  • June: The Celebration of Emerging Writers is held, at which prizes are presented in each category and the winner of each prize reads. WFNS publicly announces prize winners.

Jurors 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.

WFNS reserves the right not to proceed with the awarding of a 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 jurors. WFNS’s decision not to award a prize category in any particular year is final. However, feedback will still be offered on all entries in that category.

Jurors’ decisions in selecting shortlists, winners, and honourable mentions are final. Entrants are not permitted to contact jurors to request additional or follow-up feedback.

Entries are accepted only through the form at the bottom of this page. Please note that completing the entry form is the final step in our recommended entry checklist:

Ensure your eligibility.

Ensure your entry package is complete and correct and does not contain your real name anywhere. In the event of an error, please contact our office to explain the issue before submitting a revised entry package. No entry package or revised entry package can be accepted after the competition deadline, so we encourage you to submit early.

Pay the $36 entry fee. This fee covers only a portion of the administrative and assessment costs for each entry. As such, even in cases of incomplete or ineligible entries, it cannot be refunded. The entry fee is $29 for WFNS members. If you are a member in good standing, please ensure you log in to your member account before checkout to apply your member discount. WFNS General Membership is open to anyone who writes, regardless of writing experience or place of residence.

To pay fee by phone, call us between 9am and 4pm on weekdays at 902 423 8116 with your credit card details.

To pay fee by mail, send a cheque (payable to “Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia”) post-dated for no later than the competition deadline.

Complete and submit the online entry form, visible at the bottom of this page when entries are being accepted. After clicking the “Submit” button, please wait until the green confirmation message appears (confirming that your form has been successfully submitted) before exiting this page.

Entries Closed on January 18, 2024

Entry form

If you are submitting manuscripts to two or more prize categories in a single competition year, you must submit a separate fee and entry form for each manuscript.

Choose a pseudonym (that is, a 'false name') under which the Nova Writes judges will consider your entry. The pseudonym must not be associated with you in other contexts (such as your online alias or a pseudonym you've used in a previous Nova Writes competition year), so we encourage you to be creative, punny, or otherwise inventive in creating this name.
If the name you commonly use or publish under differs from your legal name, please include your legal name in parentheses—i.e., "Common Name (Legal Name)." If your entry wins, your legal name will be required for prize payment.
Please include mention of significant previous publications.
Click or drag a file to this area to upload.
• Your entry package must be a single digital file (.doc or .pdf format) that contains all components identified in the above section "2. Entry Package."
• Your entry package must have a file name as follows: Pseudonym – Short Name of Prize (where “Pseudonym” is the false name you've chosen for this year's competition and “Short Name of Prize” is the shorten version of the prize category selected above—i.e., Wilson Prize, Percy Prize, Barkhouse Prize, Prix Thibodeau, or Joe Prize).
• Incomplete, misnamed, or file-unreadable application packages may be deemed ineligible.
Indicate the method by which you paid the Nova Writes entry fee, details of which are given in the above section "4. Entry Checklist & Fee." Fee payment must be sent before you submit your entry.

For questions or further information, please contact us at least one week prior to the competition deadline.

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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