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13 January 2009 @ 12:12 am
Of all the silly things...  
Here's an odd one for you:

For a fantasy story I've recently been circulating to magazines, I made up some terminology for people who have certain abilities.  They were simple, generic terms, but I'd never heard anyone use them in this particular way before, and neither, apparently, had my friends and beta-readers.

Last week I saw a trailer for a film that's coming out soon -- and the film uses both of the pieces of terminology I thought I'd invented, one of them in an identical way, one of them in a slightly different way.

I'm pretty sure nobody stole from me; I think it's just a coincidence. But -- if I don't sell the story before the film comes out, some editors will think that a I was too lazy to make up my own terms and just lifted them from a popular film.  (If it is popular, which might not happen...)

What to do?  Trying to explain the matter in the cover letter is worse than doing nothing at all -- it'll look defensive and ridiculous.  Maybe I should change the terminology in the story?

Current Location: Sleep
Current Mood: confusedconfused
Current Music: Some piece of Bach I can't identify
amamama: Bear - you've got a friend in meamamama on January 13th, 2009 08:00 am (UTC)
A wonderful example of the common subconscious. When something is first thought of, it pops up everywhere, completely unrelated. I designed a nursing top, and tried, but discovered I didn't have the energy to pursue it further. It is the reason why my username is Amamama. Two years later I discover a Swedish design that is disturbingly similar, and checking into the history discover that I beat her with about a year (I made my first nine months before she got the idea) - but I'd never shown my designs publicly. The thing is, that this designer insists that her idea is original, and I don't doubt her - she just fished it out of the great big common subconscious. What I would do is just shrug and grin. If someone mentions it, I'd just reply that it's a wonderful demonstration of how a new idea pops up several places at the same time. And the good editors will know that it takes quite some time to finish a piece. I think this is a matter where intention really matters (where intention goes, energy flows - heard that before?) - if you intend to be seen as original, and this similarity in vocabulary as a wonderful coincidence, then I think that's what you get. If you on the other hand start to worry that they'll think you a lazy git and a fraud, than that's exactly what you'll get. I know which mindset I'd opt for.
madderbradmadderbrad on January 13th, 2009 08:18 am (UTC)
I guess you should change the terminology, if you can think of substitutes. Either that or don't just mention it at all. The third option - trying to dismiss it in a cover letter - would appear defensive, as you say. Plus guarantee that the editor will be aware of the terminology as a possible problem ... whereas the issue might not pop up at all if he doesn't see the trailer/movie. And it would beg the question "why didn't Mr. Schneyer just change it then, if he thinks it could be a problem (why would he mention it otherwise)?".
girlspell: Rachel butterfly in flightgirlspell on January 13th, 2009 01:17 pm (UTC)
Wow..very strange, but it happens in Hollywood all the time with writers. Someone things of something for a film. By the time production rolls around someone else thought of it. But these two don't know each other. On the hand, when you're in community that is very creative, things like that do happen. You live and breathe creativity. Something is bound to cross over.

Having said that, there is a lot of stealing of ideas there too. The smallest thing said, could start the ball rolling. Authors steal from each other too.

You might have to change it, I don't really know. You're a fan of sci fi. Maybe you picked that up from somewhere ages ago with out thinking of it.
ajjones on January 13th, 2009 01:37 pm (UTC)
Doesn't the collective unconscious just bite? This sort of thing happens to me a lot.
larabuckerton on January 21st, 2009 12:42 pm (UTC)
You totally must invent new terms!

Here are some ideas:

Praxis tasers
Experience plugs
Psi scones
Wack rescindatrons
Mosley awls
Anagpesis junctions
Orchard subjectivity IVs
Estrangement frame-ups
Transdermal cortex wraps
Esper frappachinos
Sobering things
Networkable orbits
Craw virgins
Coding chops
Shape rushes
L'ideologie sluices
Antler combs
Dances of the sugarplum terminators
7.70 mm centrefire FMJ rimmed butterfly with butterfly
Culture molds
Piltdown perfume pearls
Lotions of possibility
Generic shi*t
Hip-mounted anti-bandwagon ordinances
WYSIWYG synapse blowtorches

Obv. it'd be easier if you described the terminology. Why the reluctance?
Kenken_schneyer on January 21st, 2009 06:42 pm (UTC)
Thanks for dropping in, Lara. I like your suggestions.

I try to avoid giving specifics, in unlocked posts, about stories that haven't yet sold. While it's well known that most stories circulate among many mags before finding a home, and that only a very few mags can reasonably expect to be the first recipient, still I think it's impolitic to rub their noses in it. So I'm not mentioning the terminology because I don't want to identify the specific story.

Thanks again!