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Scribe Varuna Residency

Date: Sat May 9 2020 12:00 am to Thu June 18 2020 11:59 pm

Held in partnership with Scribe Publications, these publishing intensive mentorships provide a unique opportunity for up to four writers developing exceptional new work. The 2020 program is looking for narrative non-fiction on climate change, nature, and the environment in the anthropocene.

Scribe Publications will choose each of the manuscripts because they believe it has the potential to become a publishable work of literary value. It is important for applicants to note that this program does not come with a guarantee of publication.  

The residency includes manuscript feedback and meetings with Scribe editorial staff, independent writing time in your own private writing studio, accommodation and meals. Scribe editors live with the writers at Varuna, and meet with each writer at the beginning and end of the week to discuss your project. Evenings offer the opportunity to meet with other writers and the Scribe editors over dinner to chat about publishing and writing. 

After the residency Scribe will keep in touch, offering further feedback as you develop your manuscript to a completed or reworked draft.


Key dates

Applications open 9 May and close 18 June.

If successful, you will be required to take your residency from Monday 26 October to Monday 2 November 2020, including seven nights’ accommodation.


What you need to send us

You will need to send us between 7,000 and 10,000 words from the beginning of your manuscript, along with a synopsis of the entire work.


What is Scribe looking for?

Melbourne-based Scribe Publications is looking for narrative non-fiction on climate change, nature, and the environment in the anthropocene. In a time when these topics are at the forefront of our minds, it is still uncommon to find writing that can delve deep into these subjects and draw them out in such a way as to make them become alive and urgent, motivating rather than immobilising. We are looking for writing that is deeply researched, but also compelling and absorbing. We are looking for projects that demand engagement with the natural world as it is and as it will become (or as it could become), that push the reader to think more deeply, with new knowledge and perspectives, about the current and coming disasters, be that through close focus on one aspect, or taking a broader view, and that, hopefully, sparks a sense of agency in the reader to respond in the real world. 

Narrative non-fiction is distinct from academic work and should be structured around storytelling and voice. Some examples of the kind of work we’re looking for are Findings and Sightlines by Kathleen Jamie, the journalism of James Bradley, and the nature writing of Robert Macfarlane.

Scribe values research and is happy for the text to include endnotes, but is looking for manuscripts that address a general reader rather than an academic audience. Emphasis should be placed on voice and good writing to draw a reader in.



There is a fee of $65 per application, unless you are a financially current alumni member using your annual fee waiver. Application fees are used to pay professional assessors to read your work.

If you are successful, you will be asked to make a contribution of $385 towards your residency and you will need to meet your own travel expenses to and from Varuna. If you have a Healthcare card, you may apply to the Varuna Travel Assistance Fund for a subsidy of up to $300.


Visit: https://www.varuna.com.au/fellowships/scribe

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