An easy puzzle should have a new-ish theme that isn't so out-there that tyros can understand what's going on. It also cannot have any obscure words in the fill. That means all the Eastern European rivers, Greek gods, and lines from e. e. cummings poems are strictly verboten. Oh, and it's somehow supposed to be fun. All add up to a hard task to pull off.
The easiest puzzle to make is a Wednesday puzzle. (For the uninitiated, a puzzle's difficulty is generally graded by the day it would appear in The New York Times. That is to say Mondays are easy, and the puzzle gradually gets harder untill we reach the WTFF? insanely tough Saturdays.) A Wednesday has a theme that might not be on the tricky side, but it's got those pesky opera singers and silent movie actresses in the fill. Not a whole lot of them, but one or two of them that are holding the whole damn grid together.
And it's a real dillema too. As a constructor, we constantly ask ourselves is this fill better with all these colorful phrases using eye-poppingly high-scoring Scrabble letters but one awful Southern Hemisphere constellation? Or should we play it safe with the other fill with nothing too fancy, but nothing offensive either?
Sometimes in my case, I might have thrown something too outré for the average solver but not for those in-the-know (MOS DEF, perfect example). Yet that rapper's appearance suddenly thrusts an otherwise wonderful Monday puzzle into the Tuesday or Wednesday category. (Editor depending, mind you).
The easy puzzles are always mentioned with scorn amongst puzzlemakers. "If it isn't oh-holy-fuck hard, it's not worth making or solving," most say. And it's true. I love making the really, really, nasty hard ones. And feel especially proud of myself when I've made a theme that makes you feel like you needed to be tripping on acid to figure it out.
But the majority of solvers really just want easy puzzles. It's why so many markets have such crappy puzzles. Rote exercises of strict vocabulary without any of the fun stuff. Puns, ambiguities and neologisms have no place in these puzzles.
It doesn't have to be that way. I'm hoping with some of these puzzles that I've posted (including the one above) are entertaining enough for the seasoned veterans, yet not-so-scary so the newbies can finish them and realize how they've been wasting their time doing all the boring ones.