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Author Topic: General rules for filling in a grid?  (Read 5774 times)


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General rules for filling in a grid?
« on: December 05, 2013, 10:00:30 PM »
Most of the discussions seem to assume that software will be used to fill in the grid. For those that do not use software, are there general rules that most crossword creators use to fill in a grid? Do you start in the middle and work out? Start at both ends? Is there any published FAQs regarding trying to cram words into a grid. It seems an incredibly difficult task.


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Re: General rules for filling in a grid?
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2014, 04:55:41 PM »
I hope vpelss is still around. You might try locating a copy of Random House Puzzle Maker's Handbook, first published in 1981 and reprinted in 1995. Authors Mel Rosen and Stan Kurzban recommend selecting a theme and then coming up with a long list of words and phrases that fit the theme. They should be at least nine letters in length. Avoid words with lesser-used letters and avoid words with long strings of consonants or vowels. Since the puzzle needs to be symmetrical, select two or three pairs of words of equal length. The theme words should be three or four rows or columns away from the grid's edge. Then put a black square at the beginning or end of each word. Add strings of two or three black squares protruding from the borders. Maintaining symmetry, add black squares to the grid in such a way that you don't wind up having to use overly long words. A grid will be easier to fill if you use words with alternating consonants and vowels. If one letter ends two different words, it should be an E or an S.

I hope that's enough information to get you started. Good luck!


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Re: General rules for filling in a grid?
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2016, 12:24:38 AM »
A couple of ideas after you have followed Thomps2525's excellent suggestions . . . when adding strings of 2 or 3 black squares to a 15 x 15 you might try positioning them around the top and bottom of the 5th and 10th column for three discrete sections of 4-5 letter words across the top and bottom of the puzzle (or the 8th column for 7 letter words). You'll then have an idea of where other black squares need to go in the center to complete your grid. I find it helpful to start with words that bisect 2 or more themed answers, particularly where those crossings will result in a word with awkward letter combinations (e.g. a "y" and a "y"). If you can't find good words for those crossings, it may be necessary to fiddle with the positioning of your themed clues. Once the difficult crossings are resolved, I like to work the section nearest the most difficult crossing (i.e. with the fewest alternate words that could be substituted to complete the crossing) to make sure that I can find clean fill for that section.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2016, 10:58:04 PM by RichP »


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