Language, Genre & Audience is King to Good Writing: Lessons from “Polish your Prose” Workshop with Prof. Tom Odhiambo

By Florence Kimuyu


I had the pleasure of attending the Writers Guild Kenya Manuscript Polishing Workshop-and it was mind-blowing- from the ambience of the place to other authors- both published and upcoming ones- to the sessions, which allowed me to filter the ‘information noise’ and focus on the basics in a world where information is copious, sometimes it can be hard to choose which information to ingest.

Through Prof.  Tom, I learned that good writing requires the writer to consider the language, genre and audience.

When it comes to writing, every language has a sign. As a writer, it is vital to pick a language you are good at English, Swahili, Gikuyu, Akamba, etc. By doing this, you are signaling who you are writing for, and it will make it easy to induce your audience to see what you see.

By picking the language, you are also selecting the genre and your target audience. To understand your genre and audience, as a writer, you must read a lot and the signs of the time to be a great writer. You must also understand the subject you want to write about, which will allow you to conceptualize the idea, narrowing down your niche audience rather than writing for a general audience.

However, for me, the highlight of the day was learning that there is nothing like Writer’s block as writing boils down to your motivation for writing- why are you writing? Plus, if you have the right motivation to write, you will never experience writer’s block.  Writing does not require you to have a mind-blowing idea-just write even if it does not make sense at the moment as you will be able to draft and redraft, each time refining the idea. Plus, no matter how grand they are, ideas must respect space and time, reflecting on everyday life and fixing our issues.

In conclusion, good writing does not rely on impressive ideas but on carefully choosing your language, genre, and audience. As we put pen on paper or activate our writing juices at our keyboards, remember that each word we write can inspire, enlighten, and perhaps even save a life.


Florence Kimuyu is a member of Writers Guild-Kenya.







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