PROGRAM: [Java]Across Lite file or as a printout.
It didn't take long after I started selling puzzle for me to gravitate toward making themelesses. (I especially thought the grid patterns like this were the most visually-appealing. And that post pretty much sums up how I feel about themelesses, anyway.) I think the freeform nature of it was initially most appealing. But I didn't realize how they were great exercises of overemphasize the good stuff, and de-emphasizing the bad. My first themelesses were fine at the time, but they probably wouldn't be sellable nowadays. For one thing they had too many extra black squares (cheaters) to make the construction easier. Another minus was that certain parts of the grid could be cut off from the rest of the puzzle by a single black square. Rookie mistakes, for sure, but it bears repeating.
But then again, you gotta start somewhere/learn how to walk before you run/etc. After hours/days/months/years of making these wide-open grids, it didn't take too long before I started applying this approach to my themed puzzles. That is to say themed grids with themeless-level word counts. (After all, I'd much rather make a grid than try and come up with fresh new clues.) In fact, a couple two-three of these themed-puzzles with 70 or 68 entries ran on Saturdays! I thought they were going to be Thursday puzzles. I guess it was mostly because of the lower-than-normal word count and partially because the the theme slipped by Will.
Course as the saying goes: cleanliness is next to godliness. Now if we apply that axiom to my crosswording life, I'm so nowhere near a god, it's not even funny. Sure, there's some snappy stuff all over the grids, but usually there's some bullshit needed to keep the whole grid together. One of my editors, Francis Heaney, reminds me that my fill sometimes gets away from me because I'm either trying to cram another Scrabble-y letter or lower the word count. And it's true. I am trying to do both those things, I just have to learn how to shut that off so it doesn't interfere with the solver. I mean, sometimes you just gotta add a cheater to improve the corner. Joon Pahk, one of my test solvers (and up-and-coming crossword star), talked me into doing exactly just that in this puzzle I posted, and it erased a grand total of 4 kinda crappy entries. Thank you, Joon!
Do you as solvers enjoy the wide-open plus themed puzzles? Do you even notice? Do any other constructors weigh the options of lowering the word count on an otherwise normal puzzle? Leave a comment and start the dialogue!All right. Enjoy these two puzzle I've posted. New one on Friday.