March 2, 2023 – Common Room
This is my first crossword I've published publicly!
This puzzle's creation journey
After a first puzzle attempt had some too-clever, nonsense answers, I set out to make a puzzle
that was doable without mental gymnastics (e.g. how would you clue CATHARETOAD?). I picked a
new theme (this puzzle's 11-letter answers) and got to work.
My first draft found me with a fiendish crossing of two obscure references (FISKE and ERO). Even worse, I had dared include a variant of the already 5-point "puzzle-killer" CREOSOL (CREASOL). I cringed at how much these squares stood out.
Nevertheless, I shared it with a friend whose solving abilities are better than my own. Less than an hour later, he sent me a screenshot of the completed grid, "Don't think I've solved it." He was off by one letter (!) at that FISKE/ERO crossing. We discussed where else the puzzle was uneven, where it didn't have the right style, and where the answers were too obscure (EBOAT, ANKE). Ultimately, he enjoyed the puzzle, and that was good encouragement to keep going!
I made some minor tweaks and shared it with 2 separate people who immediately pointed out its difficulty. Welp. Back to the drawing board.
With my goal to share this puzzle with a wider audience, I was determined to make it not only doable but approachable.
While reworking trouble spots, I found that failing to have a good clue for one answer could lead me to re-do an entire swath. I tried CrossFire, using it to aid in the fill. I learned about crossing score and noticed it ticking up as I simplified the puzzle. In the end, I'd rewritten the whole puzzle save the theme answers and a few other favorites.
After sharing it with the 2 people again, I got much better feedback! They each were making good progress and ultimately solved it.
Discussion (contains spoilers!)
No, really! This next one'll have spoilers!
The puzzle is built around (4) 11-letter items that you might have in a shared room.
I debated whether to shine more light on the TVPROJECTOR and whether STADIUMSEAT needed something to help it rise out of the clue but ultimately their clues will LIVEON.
I wanted to pick SONGS that I thought might get in your head – you're welcome 😉.
The clues aren't FATFREE when it comes to triva, I hope you SAW.
I know the NYT just used MONONYM as an answer, but I had it in my mind the EVE prior from watching the hilarious No More Jockeys on YouTube.
GENUINE(ly), I hope you enjoyed this puzzle. Until next time.