Constructing => General Discussion => Topic started by: ebirnholz on October 07, 2011, 05:53:17 PM

Title: Too many proper nouns?
Post by: ebirnholz on October 07, 2011, 05:53:17 PM
I've built a 21x21 grid with 140 entries, but on my last count, it has 33 proper nouns (made up of people, places, or brand names).  They're generally spread evenly throughout the entire grid, but obviously some do cross each other.  All of them have appeared in the NYT puzzle before, some much more frequently than others.  There aren't any entries that are crossed by only proper nouns, although one four-letter entry has three proper nouns that cross it.  These 33 entries cannot be clued in any other way except as a proper noun -- unlike, say, the word MAX which could be either a name of a person or a short way of saying "maximum."

I know there isn't necessarily a hard rule on this, but considering that 33 of my puzzle's 140 entries (23.5%) consist of proper nouns, is that too many?  Or does it really depend on how well-known they are?
Title: Re: Too many proper nouns?
Post by: magus on October 08, 2011, 09:56:12 AM
If the puzzle's good, it's good.  And why is the NYT the criterion?  I should think the editor to whom it is sent is the arbiter.
Title: Re: Too many proper nouns?
Post by: ebirnholz on October 08, 2011, 02:27:20 PM
My hope is that it's good either way, but I think it could be annoying to solvers if they have to figure out too many proper nouns, where you either know them or you don't.  There are maybe five or six of them that I would consider to be tough, but the rest are fairly well known.

I'm planning to submit it to the NYT, hence why I'm using them as my criterion.
Title: Re: Too many proper nouns?
Post by: SJS on October 13, 2011, 06:23:34 PM
I think well-known is the most important thing.  And perhaps variety too... so not all of them are sports names, for example.

You may be able to handle some of this by cluing?  John could be a proper name or a synonym for bathroom.  Eden could be the name of the Biblical garden or it could mean "paradise".  So maybe you could look for ways to turn 3 or 4 of those proper nouns to... improper.
Title: Re: Too many proper nouns?
Post by: ebirnholz on October 14, 2011, 05:35:55 PM

Your point on variety is very well-taken.  One thing that helped was to list all of the proper nouns and categorize them as presently constructed.  I found that of the 33 proper nouns, five of them were sports names, which even for a 21x21, seemed to be a bit much since that was not the theme of the puzzle.  So after doing a lot of editing, I've cut down the number of proper nouns to 29, with now just three sports names, which seems reasonable (and I was able to get rid of one pretty obscure term and replace it with a common English word).  I still have a fair number of geographical terms, but they're at least part of a diverse selection of cities, countries, bodies of water, etc.

I agree that certain entries can act as either a proper noun or as another term, but after reviewing what I have, there's really no way to clue them except as proper nouns.  Now that I have 29 instead of 33, maybe that will make the grid less of a trivia contest.