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Writing A Themed Kriss Kross Puzzle

Writing a themed puzzle is generally more difficult than writing a non-themed puzzle.

This is usually because there are relatively few words on a theme, and therefore this will restrict the options for the particular puzzle type you are creating. This is true for virtually all word puzzle types, but particularly for kriss kross puzzles.

If you think of creating a general kriss kross puzzle, with no restriction on theme, then you have the entire English language vocabulary at your disposal and can use any word you want in any location on the grid. And because you list the words to find in a kriss kross puzzle, then you can even use obscure words: it doesn't matter if the solver knows the words because they are given to them!

However, if you are creating a themed kriss kross puzzle, then you have the problem that you have relatively few words to choose from, and therefore you often have to fiddle with the grid quite a lot to get a good puzzle that places a decent number of words and reaches the edges of the given grid size.

The best way to start with a themed puzzle is to write as long a list of themed words as you possible can. Don't rush this process: see how many words come to you over the course of a few days. Of course do some research if you can on the theme to help suggest words to you.

Sometimes a client will give you certain words to include the grid: if this happens, then try placing these first as at least you know you have got them all in early, and it can be very hard to place specific words later on.

When creating a themed kriss kross puzzle, many setters like to start with the longest words and place these across the middle of the grid. This gives a natural way to divide the top and bottom of the grid, and gives you lots of letters to work from. Placing the longest answers first is generally recommended as they quickly restrict options for the rest of the grid.

Once you have placed the major answers, you will probably want to save your work, so you can then experiment with other placements but go back to that initial position if you need to. Try to place any words with difficult letters first, and as a general rule with your wordlist, try to get as many words with nice letters as possible (not always something that is practical - if you do have a couple of words with a 'Z' for instance in them, then look out for opportunities to cross those words).

It is usually easiest to always build out from an existing word, rather than creating islands of words and trying to connect them. So do try and grow out from the centre of the grid rather than creating several island puzzles then trying to connect them later on - that is usually quite difficult to do and if you don't find a way to connect them, you have wasted a lot of work.

Finally if you are not working to a specific grid size, then this flexibility can be invaluable with a kriss kross, and also if the grid doesn't have to be square, that can help you too. Just don't make the grid too uneven: try to keep it balanced.

Once the puzzle is done remember that you need to solve it in order to check that there is only one solution: there is nothing more frustrating than a kriss kross with multiple solutions!



Date written: 28 Jun 2015



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