Constructing => General Discussion => Topic started by: acpracht on October 22, 2014, 10:12:20 AM

Title: Quick feedback on a theme?
Post by: acpracht on October 22, 2014, 10:12:20 AM
Hi, all,
I'm trying a slightly less crazy/ambitious theme, just to try to get one of my puzzles published and start getting my name out there.

I'm trying out this one, which is a simple "SS" addition to common terms/phrases to create a new, jokey answer. The theme answers would be:

aluminum foSSil (14)
frolick gaSSily (14)
ice floSSes (10)
treSSed cat (10)

With the current grid design, there will be several other 10-square slots that are not themed, but there are no non-theme answers longer than 10. My understanding is most publishers find this acceptable, correct?

Thanks, everyone, for your help with guiding the newbie.

Title: Re: Quick feedback on a theme?
Post by: mmcbs on October 26, 2014, 09:19:13 AM
Usually the themers are the longest entries (except sometimes if they're all across entries, there might be down entries that are the same or longer).

The hallmark of letter adds/switches is that the original phrase is a common, well understood saying or phrase, thus in your example #1 & 3 are OK, but #2 & 4 are not (also "frolick" is not a real word, the k is only used in frolicked and frolicking).

The other facet is that the converted phrase is clever and/or amusing, as a punch line of a joke would be. Some are funny in their own right (Prince of Waddles is one I've used), others need help from the clue. So, try cluing these and showing them to a friend to see if he/she thinks they're funny.
Title: Re: Quick feedback on a theme?
Post by: acpracht on November 04, 2014, 06:30:43 PM
Thanks for the feedback.
Do you think that "Treed Fox" would be a common enough phrase?
Title: Re: Quick feedback on a theme?
Post by: mmcbs on November 06, 2014, 08:06:04 AM
Don't take my word for it. Go to Google News and put the search phrases ALUMINUM FOIL, ICE FLOE, TREED CAT, and TREED FOX. The results will tell you what's a common phrase and what isn't.
Title: Re: Quick feedback on a theme?
Post by: acpracht on November 06, 2014, 12:03:23 PM
Gave up on that theme entry... Going with:
Aluminum foSSil
GraSSy matter
ClaSSy pigeon
DiSSed suddenly

Attaching my grid fill as a pdf. I have alternate/backup plans for most of the questionable/borderline entries, so if you see one that's particularly egregious, please point it out and I'll let you know my alternate thoughts.
Thanks for your help!

Title: Re: Quick feedback on a theme?
Post by: mmcbs on November 07, 2014, 11:24:35 AM
Looks OK overall; quite a few non-words (I just had one sent back for revision because of that), so if you can reduce the numbers of those, it would be better. These include abbreviations, prefixes & suffixes, initials, acronyms. The only individual entry I see that is probably a knockout is ELIOTE. I think that's Etoile spelled backwards, which you couldn't use in non-thematic fill.
Title: Re: Quick feedback on a theme?
Post by: acpracht on November 07, 2014, 01:07:57 PM
Thank you for the feedback!

"Elitoe" was clued in Ginsberg as the lead dancer in a company (one reference). I put that in after I realized that while I thought I was filling "Elliott" (E.T.'s friend) I'd actually filled it as "Eliott" (???). I of course didn't realize this until I'd filled the rest of the grid (argh).

I thought I could perhaps get away with "Eliote" as it crosses pretty well (SMEE ALOE TINGLE PIMIENTO SKILLSET DARE).

Upon further consideration, I do think I would do better with two possible changes that would lead to a better fill on the horizontal and wouldn't affect the cross in the slightest.

First would be to fill as I originally had (accidentally) with ELIOTT (makes the cross DART) and clue it as:

"The House of _____" ('90s BBC TV series about dressmaking sisters in the '20s)

A wee bit obscure, especially for an American audience, but they started showing episodes again a couple years ago, and it's gotten renewed attention as it's similar to "Downton Abbey." And, as before, it crosses well.

My other thought is to fill it as ELIOTN (Read "Eliot N." making the cross DARN) and cluing it as:

"Untouchable" who took on mobster Al C. in 1920s Chicago.

Eliot Ness is going to be much better known, as will "The Untouchables" and I think the surrounding info in the clue makes it pretty clear we're talking about "Al Capone" with "Al C." and that it's hinting toward the needed fill of "Eliot N." to parallel. This feels a bit bogus however and, worse, inelegant.

I think either would be better than the complete obscurity of "Eliote" however. Which would you suggest?

I do have some alternate fills in some of those funny corners, but I don't know that it will result in fewer abbreviations in the end. I think I might run with it on the chance it will pass and worry about it later if it happens to not...

Thanks !

Title: Re: Quick feedback on a theme?
Post by: admin on November 08, 2014, 03:10:17 AM
The problem I have with this theme is that "SS" is completely arbitrary, as far as I can see. What does it represent? Why are you inserting "SS" and not "RB", "ND", "LL", or whatever. There needs to be some sort of *meaning* to what you are inserting, and then a reference to it elsewhere in the puzzle. If you used "SSS" you might be able to work in some sort of snake-sound theme. But that's obviously not what's happening with your theme entries. It's interesting that you can stick "SS" into some well known  phrases and create off-beat phrases with clever clues, but that's not enough, in my opinion.

Title: Re: Quick feedback on a theme?
Post by: mmcbs on November 08, 2014, 05:18:15 AM
Many editors will use an added letter theme, even if the letters are arbitrary. I've had some success. But that reference on ELIOTE is misleading. Look up ETOILE. It's French for star, and it's usually clued with reference to ballet. Try redoing this section.