Children's writing

Puzzle Process

I use a lot of scrap paper when I craft puzzles. I save every bit of marginally useful paper I get my hands on: half-empty pages, junk mail, etc. I’m a huge fan of trees and clean air, so I try very hard not to waste paper.

One puzzle today took some serious finagling of words. I wanted to convey 3 facts. The number of letters in each statement had to coordinate in a specific way. In the end, one fact had 53 letters and two had 52. Strange as it may seem, that worked.

Aside: Because 53+52=110, which is evenly divisible by 5, which is the maximum number of rows I feel I can use in this kind of puzzle. The second 52-letter statement replaces the first in part of the puzzle, which is why there are 2 statements with exactly the same number of letters. The problem here is that there can be no identical letters in the same positions when the 2 statements are fitted one on top of the other such that one reads forward and the other reads backward. Trust me. It works!

It required monkeying with synonyms and saying the same thing multiple ways: beat a record, broke a record, topped a record. Lots of counting, adding, dividing, and revising.

puzzle-prep.jpgSee? This is what all of my work looks like. Really. And notice that it’s on the back of an old cover letter from SI. See the logo in the upper right corner? How appropriate, eh?

From here, the facts went onto graph paper, in an orderly fashion, then into the computer. Perhaps, if I remember, I will share the whole process in greater (clearer) detail when the book comes out. It was a particularly fun (meaning “challenging”) one to figure out; plus, I’ve hidden something in this puzzle. Shhh!

Categories: Children's writing