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 Questions to Ask Before You Self-Publish in Kenya

First question, Are you a writer?download (1)

  • You’re a writer if you fill notebooks with stories and random thoughts that could be stories.
  • If your laptop/PC is full of files of stories you’ve written.
  • You wonder why publishing can’t get easier in Kenya.
  • You get jealous every time you see that Saturday story running on the dailies and wonder why it’s not your story and how you can be that person….^_^ You know you do.

So, now we’ve established you’re a writer.  (So that we’re all on the same page, the writer I’m talking about is one who writes Fiction)

The second question is, Are you any good?

booksThe word ‘good is relative.  Readers have different tastes.  The world of fiction has different genres.  There are those who are partial to a particular genre, and those who can read from each genre.  Wherever your story fits, you’ll find readers who think its good, and those who don’t.  If you get readers who love your stories, celebrate!  You’re entertaining someone.  If you get readers who criticize your work, take it with a grain of salt then shake it off.  Grow a thick skin and don’t stop writing.

Bad editing, however, does not make your story attractive.  No one wants to read a story with glaring mistakes on every page.  Work hard, spend extra time reading your story aloud and fix those grammatical errors.  You may also ask a friend to check them for you, if you’re anything like me, if I read a page repeatedly; my brain starts auto-correcting errors. That means you’ll have a sentence that says knead, when you meant need, but you can’t see it.  Pester the people next to you so they can read your work and catch those problems.

The third question is, How do you get published?

Traditional Routes are tough to follow in Kenya.  Publishing companies have strict criteria when choosing manuscripts.  Most times, you’ll feel like giving up when you send in manuscripts and you get no response.

Hey, that’s life.  So, buck up!  There are many avenues to follow.  Get online and start publishing, the entire world is online, and there are no more excuses about how no one will read your work.

The fourth Question, How can I get an Audience?

Publishing online made simple. – You’re in Kenya, you’re thinking I want an audience, and I don’t know how to reach them.  Maybe, you do have an audience, and want to expand it.  The first step is to establish your identity online.

downloadStart a Blog

I was in a meeting recently where someone mentioned that blogs are taking over the world.  There are so many blogs out there, and that’s how most people get their voices heard.  So, you, my dear budding writer, why don’t you have one?

Get started right now.

You can use WordPress, Blogspot, Tumblr, Flicker, and other platforms that allow you to Blog without cost.  The goal here is to create your space.  It will be a space filled with your words.  It’s also a place where people give you feedback on your writing.  Get noticed.

  • Don’t just write three posts and stop because no one has commented.  I’ve seen people who quit writing their blogs.  Please don’t quit.  Commit to that Blog, and don’t stop.
  • Talk about your Blog, share your posts, get others talking about it too, through social media, also through your friends, and family.
  • Build a brand around your writing.  If you’re confident in your work, others will be too.

Self-Publishing Your Stories

If you have written stories and they are typed up neatly, complete and ready for other people to read, think self-pubabout self-publishing.  First, ask yourself why you’re thinking of self-publishing.

    • Is it to make money? – This takes time, it’s doable, but it takes time.  So, don’t quit your day job just yet.  Making money through self-publishing means, you’re marketing your book daily, getting people to talk about it, and buy it.  If you’re determined, you’ll get this done.
    • Is it for name recognition while you try to get a publishing house to pick your book?  – Well, this takes work too.  Time and work.

Whatever the reason, the first rule is not to stop at publishing one e-book.

  • The best marketing is publishing constantly.  Don’t stop with just one title.  Otherwise, you end up as the one none-hit wonder.
  • Be creative.  A good story will sell itself.
  • Don’t stop learning.  Research what other authors have done, teach yourself grammar, and spelling rules, learn what genres are, find your niche, and explore it.  Don’t stop learning.  When you think you’ve mastered writing, hit the books some more.
  • You’re in Kenya,  there is loads of inspiration – The best part about our culture is that it’s so full of color.  Don’t be afraid to explore it.  Include the characters in your life, and you know they’re many who leave you wondering and asking questions.  Turn them into fun characters in your stories, and highlight your culture.

My Humble Advice is Don’t stop, no matter what.
manuscriptThis part is important, so important; I had to write it in red. ^_^.  Don’t stop writing.  Most budding writers encounter a lot of challenges that make them shy away from writing.  It could be the pressures of life, and making money.  You know what, that’s understandable, make sure your life is going well.  But, don’t shelf the idea of writing.  Carry around a notebook, and that spare moment you have waiting for the bus, or taking a break, jot down a few thoughts.  It will turn into something more, and before you know it, you’ll have a bunch of stories.

Others stop when someone reads their work and they get negative feedback.  Oh, this is not good.  Oh, I didn’t like it. Don’t let such words stop you.  I’ve had someone tell me that, and I made them tell me what they didn’t like.  Was it the characters?  Was it the story plot?  Why didn’t you like it?  Ask why, think it over, and then find a way to fix it.  If the answers given don’t sound reasonable, then find a second opinion and a third.  Just don’t quit.

In fact, when you get that negative feedback, it’s time to write even harder.  Hit the books, research what others have done, and then get back to your writing desk, and challenge yourself to do better.  Go to seminars, seek out fellow writers, join platforms and learn more about the writing industry.  You’ll slowly find your voice and your niche.

So, are you interested yet? Get to it then!  Start writing already!