Choosing a Genre for Your Fiction in Kenya

What is a Fiction Genre?

It is a fiction classification based on content, setting, and mood of the story.  A book may fit more than one genres but most times a story leans to one type of genre.

Make a Choice of Genre

Why is it important to choose a genre when you write Fiction?

Choosing a genre helps you focus your writing.  It gives you a niche to concentrate on, instead of writing for everyone, you write for a specific target market and it helps you market your book easier after publishing.

Types of Book Genres

There are many different types of genres.  When you choose one, learn all you can about about that genre, read other authors who excel in the genre, then get to work.

Book Genre List

1. General – This is a book with no particular theme.

2. Action and Adventure (For kids and teenagers)

3. Anthologies – Stories compiled in one book without any particular theme

4. Biographical – If you have a stunning life story that must be told, this is your genre

5. Religious – Your story may have a strong religious theme, maybe focused on faith, or morals.  Basically, an exploration of a life with religion.  Your imagination, your story. This genre can have the following sub- genres:-

  • General
  • Fantasy
  • Futuristic
  • Historical
  • Romance
  • Suspense
  • Cultural

6. Coming of Age – These stories are about finding yourself, leaving home, or finding out what you want to do.

7. Contemporary Women – Stories about women, think Maeve Binchy

8. Cultural Heritage – These stories are mostly about culture, tribes, once again let your imagination go wild

9. Dystopian – Usually these stories feature an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it theme.  Think the movie I Am Legend with Will Smith, the Host by Stephanie Meyer

10. Fairy Tales/ Folk Tales/ Legends/ Mythology – My grandmother used to tell us stories about ogres who ate children when they did bad things when we visited her in her rural home.  She’d scare us that if we did something bad, that ogre would come get us when we slept.  Terrifying but that’s enough fodder for this genre.  Other ideas are like Cinderella, Maleficent…create your own.

Harry potter
J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter

11. Fantasy – If you love Harry Potter, this is where those books lie.  This genre has different sub genres as follows:

  • Contemporary
  • General
  • Dark Fantasy
  • Historical
  • Paranormal
  • Urban
  • Collections/Anthologies – These should have a specific theme
Photo courtesy of the iiYahikoDarkii from Deviant



12. Graphic Novels – (Comics) If you love drawing and don’t know what to do with it, this is a good idea.  Make a character, and story.  They’re very fun to read. I love them. Most popular graphic novels are  Bleach and Naruto.

13. Holidays – Stories about Christmas time, New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day and so forth…

14. Horror – Think Stephen King Novels.  Scary stories that won’t let readers sleep at night.

15. Humorous – If you have a great sense of humor, translate it on paper, write a funny story.

16. Legal – I think the person who’s done this the best is John Grisham.

17. Literary – For the more serious writer, Moby Dick/ Chinua Achebe/ e.t.c. such great minds. Are you up to it?

Eight Days to Live
Iris Johansen’s Eight Days to Live



18. Mystery/Detective – Who-Done-it theme. These stories have sub-genres that give them such a diverse range.

  • General
  • Collection & Anthologies – These must have a theme related to the main genre
  • Historical
  • International
  • Police Procedures
  • Private Investigators
  • Women Detectives




the villa
Nora Robert’s The Villa – A mixture of romance and a family saga

19. Romance – I’m partial to this genre.  You don’t have to go for the soppy romance story, you can add a sub-plot to add to the story’s texture.  Sub- Genres are as follows:

  • General
  • Collections & Anthologies – These must have a theme to them e.g. lost love, Nairobi romance, e.t.c.
  • Contemporary
  • Military
  • Fantasy
  • Multi-Cultural / Interracial
  • New Adult
  • Paranormal
  • Romantic Comedy
  • Science Fiction
  • Mystery – Suspense
  • Historical – Think those rebellion days before Kenya’s independence, or even further in times of the chiefs, so much fun to be had here, spark your imagination.


splinter cell20. Thrillers – Bring your readers to the edge of their seats with chilling stories, adventures across the country that leave you shivering.  Sub-Genres include:

  • General
  • Crime
  • Espionage
  • Historical
  • Legal
  • Medical
  • Military
  • Political
  • Supernatural
  • Suspense
  • Technology

How do you choose a Genre?

Your interests rule your decision, don’t tackle a genre you don’t understand or dislike.  If you are partial to horror stories, then learn all you can about that genre and bring your take on the topic to the table.  If it’s romance, learn all you can about the different sub-genres, and find where you’re most comfortable.  There are people who are great at creating the intricate plots found in a Thriller novel, and those who can sustain the emotional suspense found in a romance novel.  Explore your interests, and find what genre captures your imagination.

Do you have to choose a Genre?

When you go to the supermarket to buy baking flour, you find different aisles, each with a specific product.  There is the sugar aisle, the bread aisle. e.t.c…since you don’t want any of that, you go straight to the flour aisle.  There are different companies selling baking flour, but you have that one particular brand you like.  So, you walk up to it, and take it with you.  If you have time, you might browse the other aisles, and choose a different item.  If not, you go on to the check out aisle and go back to your business.

Fiction writers should equate the book industry to a supermarket. Choosing a genre is important because no matter what,  readers have different tastes. You cannot write for every one.  You’ll find people who only read thrillers, and nothing else.  You’ll find those who mix different genres.  When Readers walk in to a bookshop, or browse books on amazon, they are most likely to seek a book in the genre they like most.  If it’s romance, they’ll explore all the sub-genres in that category and never move anywhere else.  If it’s mystery, they’ll look for the different types of mysteries offered out there.  If you don’t choose a genre, readers might never stumble on your book.

Elly in Nairobi Thoughts:

You might have to explore a few genres before you find the one that fits best.  Don’t get discouraged, and make it a fun exercise.  If you choose a genre, find out who the big hitters are, read their books, find out why readers love their stories, and then get to work on your own interpretation of that genre.  Don’t copy a particular author’s style, because you’ll burn out very fast.  If you find a genre you like, at first you might tailor your stories like your favorite author’s style, but please, work at finding your own style.  Then your muse won’t stop talking to you.

Love Books
Learn your Genre, Love Books

The purpose of this list is to show a budding writer the diversity of fiction.  I hope Nairobi Fiction Writers will jump in and write in some of these genres, to add more titles on the shelves.

Keep Writing Folks!

Related Topics

How to Choose a Genre for your Novels


4 thoughts on “Choosing a Genre for Your Fiction in Kenya

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