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?