I was out with my writing group tonight, and after the official discussion was over we were chatting about things, and the conversation somehow turned to M. Night Shyamalan. And there were, of course, the haters, but I actually really like him, and I’ll tell you why.

Sometimes the potential of something appeals to me so much that I adore something, even if there are a lot of issues with it. If a world or a plot point or an idea is strong enough, it can carry an entire book/movie/media of your choice for me. Like with Maria V. Snyder’s Study trilogy. Or Labyrinth.

Yes, that Labyrinth. It’s my favorite movie, but around all the movie’s good points, it misses a major opportunity in the whole Sarah/Jareth department. It uses the whole “the goblin king had fallen in love with the girl” as a plot point at the beginning, barely touches on it at the end, and ignores it in between. And there’s such potential in that relationship. Even when I first saw it as a teenager, I couldn’t understand why it was a plot point if they didn’t do anything with it. I even sought out the novelization in the hopes that it did something with the whole thing, but alas. (The novelization is not very good in general.)

(Also, as an adult, I realize that the reason was probably because a grown man and a teenage girl are a creepy combination, but why go there in the first place, then? Couldn’t the goblin king have taken the baby for another reason?)

The same thing goes for most of M. Night Shyamalan’s movies. Poor guy certainly didn’t benefit from Sixth Sense being such a game-changer. It’s impossible to live up to that hype, and no matter what he does, he’s never going to be able to surprise everyone the way he did the first time. That doesn’t mean that the other movies are bad. Personally, I love Lady in the Water, which such a perfect example of a dark fairy tale, and uses fictional mythology and folklore. It’s worth it for the mythology alone. (But then, I do love my mythology.)

As a teenager, I read a ton of Star Trek books. If you’re familiar with the Trek books, especially the Original Series ones, you know that they’re all over the place. There was no regulations on them at all. One of my favorites is called Black Fire, which even back then I could tell had horrendous writing, but the storyline was so awesome that I eventually also read the book in Spanish. (I was in a bookstore in Spain. They had the book, of all books. How could I resist? I also bought El Hobbit and Donde esta Wally?)

Maybe it’s just because I’m a creative type myself, but the potential is more important. If I can think about things, if I can map out story extensions or alternate endings, then that appeals to me much more than something that’s so complete that there’s nothing more to be done.

What do you think, Squiders? Do you love anything that most people write off? Is it more important to you to have a polished, perfect product, or something that stimulates you in other ways?

The Potential of Things
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Books by Kit Campbell

City of Hope and Ruin cover
Shards cover
Hidden Worlds cover