There's a boy, unsure who his father is. He lives alone with his mother, in a backwater. They make ends meet, but the rumour is, it's only because the local ruler gives her preferential treatment. Turns a blind eye to short taxes, gives a slightly higher price to the goods she sells him, that sort of thing.
The local ruler is a tyrant. Abuses his power, suppresses all opposition, takes what he want from whoever he wants, with impunity.
One day the boy comes across an injured stranger. Takes him in, nurses him. His mother wants the man out. The boy meets with the man in secret. The man tutors him, broadens the boy's mind. Teaches him how to fight. Tells him a secret.
'The tyrant is my brother', he says, 'and I'm here to kill him.'
What does the boy do? He hates the tyrant, but can he be party to insurrection? Can he afford to lose the favours his mother has earned?
One day his mother follows him. Discovers where he's been going when he should have been working. Questions him when he returns. The boy tells all.
She's terrified. She tells him, the stranger is your uncle. If the tyrant dies, all he owns should be yours, not his. We'll go to the tyrant tell him everything.
But the tyrant is cruel, and mean, and unjust. And the boy us too young to rule. Now he has to choose between his birthright and his conscience.
A decent story, I think, and one that's been told in one version or another countless times. Sometimes it's the plot that draws us in to a story. Sometimes it's the characters. But the genre?
I live Stephen King's writing. But my list of favourite books includes Hitchhiker's Guide, Discworld, Weaveworld, Watchmen, The Sandman, Of Nice And Men, and countless others. People are often surprised at this; as if a horror author should read only horror. I've lost count of the times I've heard, 'Oh, but you're a horror writer- you must have read X!' If truth be told, I'm not massively knowledgeable about the genre. I like Masterton's work, though am far from being an avid fan. Jack Ketchum is on my 'should read soon' list. So why am I not an obsessive horror reader? Sure, there are tropes that any genre author should be familiar with. And I think I've read (and watched) enough horror to be able to invert and play with those tropes.
But think about the story above. The two main characters, the boy and his mother, even in that brief unfinished sketch, have enough conflict to keep the reader hooked. And the uncle - is he as altruistic as he seems, or is he motivated by a cynical power grab? Is he just using the boy?
It's the story and the characters that have your attention. You don't know the genre.
The backwater is a farmstead, the tyrant a sheriff. You've got a western.
The backwater is a run-down asteroid mine, the tyrant the local administrator. You've got a sci-fi.
The backwater is a cottage in a swamp, the tyrant a wizard. You've got a fantasy.
The backwater is a post-room job, the tyrant a CEO. You've got a thriller.
My advice to readers is to not get hung up on genre. If the characters and story captivate you, the setting doesn't matter.