Special Guest Crit: Vahini Naidoo

Super snaps for Vahini Naidoo kicking off the special guest crits (the first of FOUR for her)! Today, she is offering a 2500 word critique via RANDOM DRAWING of a young adult or adult manuscript, but no middle grade, please. Entries for this random drawing ARE NOW CLOSED.

It's Vee! WOO!

ABOUT VAHINI: Vahini (Vee) is an author represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette at the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Her debut novel, currently untitled, is scheduled for release in Fall of 2012 from Marshall Cavendish. She is also a blogger at Let the Words Flow, an excellent resource for writers of all sizes, shapes, and experience.

Vahini grew up in South Africa, where an elephant tried to kidnap her four-year-old-self from a shopping trolley and the afternoon cookies she had in the backyard  were stolen by devious monkeys. A baboon also may or may not have tried to kill her as a baby – and no, none of this is an experience common to those who dwell in South Africa. She really is just somewhat unlucky.

Fleeing the hatred of the animal kingdom (or possibly, and less dramatically tagging along with her parents), Vahini moved to Australia in 2000, where she still resides.

Vahini has always wanted to be a writer. She’s been dabbling with novel-length works since the ripe old age of twelve, and has since completed three other complete novels.


  1. Go to the mycharitywater Crits for Water campaign page.
  2. Donate $10. (You can donate more, but it won’t give you more entries. Still, donating more = awesome!)
  3. In the comments section when you donate, write two things: a) “Vahini Naidoo crit”, and b) Some way to contact you (email! twitter! a blog! Maybe not your phone number or address, tho XD),
  4. If you don’t feel comfortable putting your email on the mycharitywater page, comment on THIS blog post once you donate. Your email won’t show up to anyone but me. Make sure you use the same name as you used when you donated.
  5. Wait.
  6. I will announce the winner on April 6th.
  7. If you don’t win and you want a Kat-Crit anyway, pop me an email at katharine_brauer @ yahoo.com. (Er, remove the spaces, yeah?)

Read more about Vahini’s critting style and what she’s learned from critting after the jump.

Describe your critting style.

I like to focus on both big-picture issues (voice, setting, character, theme) and line-by-line issues (imagery, dialogue). I try to be thorough without flooding an author with needless information, or over-critiquing a piece. While I’m fairly honest, blunt even, about a piece’s flaws, I’m never mean when pointing these things out. I try to keep it helpful, basically.

How has critting helped you grow as an author?

It’s definitely sharpened my editorial eye and made all the flaws of my own work far more apparent to me. My own revision process wouldn’t be half as effective had I not spent years critting others’ manuscripts, as well.

What’s the best thing you learned from a critter or critting?

Probably the best thing I learned was from a critter, a couple of years ago. That was to stop being afraid, and stifling my voice for the sake of following a bunch of rules to the letter. My writing improved in leaps and bounds after that.

And the worst advice you’ve ever received?

This is lame, but it’s probably when several people would read my work and comment with, “Present tense makes my eyes burn! Change it. NOW! No one publishes writing like this…” or the same sort of comments regarding first person, POV. Just sort of unfounded comments.

Which is the sillier derivative, critting or critter? Do you ever use “critted” as an adjective?

Critter! It makes all of us writerly folk sound like insects, haha. And I think I have, on occasion, used critted.

All right kids! Go at it!