Celebrating East African Writing!

The Truth about the Universe – Writing Urban Fiction [See Contest Entries]

There is a great wide open market for urban fiction out there. Why? Because it is one genre of writing that has a no holds barred rule with regards to content, language, style and very importantly, sex. And people want realism with their fiction; honesty about the darkness in us, hard truth about the universe.

The current generation of urban readers is one that has been grown on the internet, seen the widest range of information freely available to everyone, and asked more questions about the human state than have ever been asked before.

So here are a few rules that you must respect if you are going to write urban fiction.

There is just plainly no room for prudishness and skittishness when it comes to addressing issues about the human state in the urban environment. Everything from urban language, social disconnect, dating and sex, mixed up family units, commitment shy unions, sexual and otherwise, crime, corruption, everything you can put into the scene knowing that it does exist, all that is up for inclusion on an urban tale.

People are always looking for a good sassy, straight to the point and well written book. So establish well-developed characters throughout your storyline. You want to make sure your characters speak to you. A person should be able to read urban fiction and feel the characters are not limited to just certain types of words and actions.

Be careful with language, just because the streets are mean and tough does not mean that every other word in your story should be a curse word, or a derogatory one. If you have set your story in a region and wish to use language as a character of the city, check to ascertain that the language you depict is in fact close to the truth. You cannot be writing about middle class yuppies plotting schemes in Nairobi CBD pubs and then use the slang common to Eastlands, unless of course you intend to present a character from Eastlands.

Outline your chapters so that each one will be as complete as possible within the overall plotline. After you have created your characters and outlined your chapters it’s time to pull everything together. So go over your work a few times, check that dialogue is realistic enough, details tally, no unnecessary details weigh on the story, and that nothing is left unresolved except intentionally.

All your characters are developed, your outline is written and you have everything exactly like you want it. Spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and detail misplacement and the like tend to distract even the editor from the beauty of your final work. So at this point read over your work again. Sometimes, when you look at your work over and over you tend to miss small mistakes.  So have a friend read over and edit some of the information.

It’s time now to have a look at the entries for the No One Told Me About This Growing Up – Urban Fiction Contest:

  1. Already Broken by Tabitha Makumi: “I am a hooker son, a prostitute, a good for nothing, that’s what I am. I have to feed you, I ain’t gonna let you die now. I am a good freaking mother, don’t you ever forget that.”
  2. Bats in the Bedlamite’s Belfry by Linda Musita: 6.30 pm on Wednesday, the 1st day of June 2011. It was fast food night and Enoch had to call Bugga n’ Fizz before they stopped delivering. The major set back on this particular Wednesday was the negative truth that his mobile phone had no airtime.
  3. Coming Home by Beatrice Wainaina: Being in high school, my friends would joke that my “known” family members couldn’t fit if they were to hang onto the branches of an oak tree.  I am the first of his ten known children.
  4. Curtain Coming Down by Jackline Waithira: As the sleek black limousine snaked its way through the traffic I found my mind wandering, vivid images of my first day in campus flashed through my mind. Back then I was a naive village girl who had come to the university with too many expectations.
  5. The Mystery of Cents by Richard Oduor : Now, it is not that my mother loves to dress scantily. No, I never said that. All I said is that she is barely clothed. Her Kikoi is in tatters; her shoes are old, patched leather 1970s ballroom dancing shoes.
  6. The Scary Bed by Mercy Barasa: My name is Leila.  I am six months old. Yes, Six months old! My language is complex. Crying.  The cries vary. Hunger, fatigue, wetness, pain and sleep. My mother and my nanny can recognize all these cries.
  7. Growing Up by Karen C. Limo: No one told me this when I was growing up, that fathers were related to you and were not issued by the government to wreck havoc in children’s lives. The father I grew up with was a nightmare, I would not have wished him upon even my worst enemy!
Please read, comment and vote for the entries. Here’s wishing all entrant authors the very best. And happy reading to all of you! 


This entry was posted on July 25, 2011 by in Writer's Blog.
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