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Is the use of software commonplace in crossword construction, even at the published level?

only for rank amateurs and highschoolers
0 (0%)
of course, you ninny
2 (100%)

Total Members Voted: 2

Voting closed: April 12, 2014, 09:08:11 AM

Author Topic: methods of crossword construction  (Read 521 times)


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methods of crossword construction
« on: March 13, 2014, 09:08:11 AM »
I feel that it is time in my life to dabble in crossword construction.  Before I begin, I'm interested to know if the use of software is considered a legitimate method for serious puzzlers.  What would Will Shortz say?  Should I stick to a blank 15 X 15 grid and a bale of pencils? 


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Re: methods of crossword construction
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2014, 03:24:59 PM »
It's always good to start raw and then gradually work your way into the use of software. Using paper and pencil as a newbie may help you to see more of the insides of what crossword constructing is all about.



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Re: methods of crossword construction
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2014, 03:33:18 PM »
And before buying a lawn mower, you should cut your lawn with a pair of scissors, so you can really get one-on-one with the grass and how it works.

Making up a crossword by hand is a difficult task. It's a good intellectual challenge - you have to think in two directions at once, considering not only the quality of the Across word, but also the likelihood of that word intersecting with valid Down words. It becomes sort of instinctive over time - but I'm not sure it's an instinct that functions as a useful skill if you use more automated methods. There's no virtue to it.

Back in 1976, my chemistry teacher insisted that we spend four weeks learning how to use the slide rule. Calculators were in widespread use by then, but she explained that calculators have batteries that run out. A slide rule never runs out. Over the years, my skill on the slide rule has been utterly useless to me. I'd say that doing crosswords by hand is the same.

Even when I was creating crosswords by hand decades ago, using specialized crossword dictionaries. I longed to find a way to automate the tedious aspects by getting my Apple II+ to do the hard work. I wrote programs for it, but creating the dictionaries was hard, and the computer was too slow to be much help. (I did create a damn fine Word Search puzzle creator, though.)

Today, the programs will do a wonderful job of helping you create a puzzle. You can use most software in a semi-automatic mode, where you enter words, and the software instantly offers potential fits. It allows the constructor to focus on the creative, dare I say, artistic side of things. Where it was once impressive to create a grid that worked at all, today the impressive accomplishments involve ingenious clues, or challenging words and grids. The use of software has made puzzles far more interesting, and lets constructors focus their energy on adding elements that make a puzzle more exciting for the solver.



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Re: methods of crossword construction
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2014, 10:27:25 AM »
Construction via software is more common than via manual means, but both are widely accepted with editors.  Considering that the grid requirements -- maximum word count, minimum theme letter count, maximum black letter count, etc. -- have not changed in over 20 years, one can safely assume that manual construction is not being discouraged.


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