Arguably this might belong in worldbuilding.stackexchange.com, but the question has to do with a fiction story and its relation to other fiction in the real world.
I have a plot which involves an alien race. This race needs certain characteristics (biological, social, technological, etc) to make the plot work. Call these primary characteristics.
In fleshing out the race, it adopted a number of other characteristics which seemed to "naturally" spill out of my imagination in relation to the primary characteristics. They just seemed to, artistically speaking, "naturally" fit or extend from the primary characteristics, backing them up and making a believable, convincing whole package.
When I then looked over what I had, I realised that my alien race seemed similar in many ways to a race in a certain famous film / TV show / novel. Ouch. Didn't intend that.
I want to avoid copyright upsets, so I'm considering my options:
- Rework my alien race until it's not at all similar. This relies on the idea that the similarities are in the secondary characteristics, not the primary; and assumes I will be able to "dress-up" the primary characteristics in a completely different set of secondary, if I can unstick myself, imaginatively speaking. It may involve rewatching / rereading the film / show / novel (it was many years ago) in order to systematically note down a comparison, and to know what to avoid.
- Go "all in" with the alien race. This would involve somehow contacting the creator(s) of said film / show / novel and asking for licensing permission to use their race. Problems here are a) how to communicate with them, b) I don't want to become fan-fiction, I'm just looking for a useful vehicle for the primary characteristics, which is what the plot is all about.
- Ignore it. This answer basically takes the viewpoint, "If there's no money involved, it doesn't matter. When (if) your story ever becomes big enough, cross (or burn) that bridge when you get to it." In other words, relax, I'm worrying over nothing.
Any suggestions for a good approach to this?