6. About Special Delivery

A few notes about the construction of Special Delivery (post #4). To spare those whose eyes glaze over at such talk, I’ve put it behind the cut.

The concept: fill a crossword grid using each and every letter from a selected quote—an anagram of the quote, in effect.

The quote I chose had 143 letters, so I used a 13 square x 13 square grid (169 total squares) and symmetrically placed 26 black squares in it to arrive at the necessary 143 white squares.

After symmetrically positioning three themed answers in the grid, I set about filling the rest of the grid. A list of individual letter totals from the quote was constantly checked.

A small supply of S’s and L’s was a bit of a problem. After putting in the three themed entries, only three S’s and two L’s were left to use.

There was a fair amount of starting over and backtracking as I learned how to best manage the list of letters. The one trade-off in making the puzzle was a larger number of “crosswordy” answers than I’d normally use.

In case you’re curious, the last entry to go in the puzzle was 56-Down, which is also the most obscure answer in the puzzle… unless you happen to be into molecular genetics. :-) (The crossing answers and quote leave no doubt as to the correct answer, however.)


6 Responses to 6. About Special Delivery

  1. Orange says:

    I’ve heard of HHT, but then, I’m a medical editor.

    Thanks for the “making of”/”VH1 Behind the Music”/exclusive behind-the-scenes peek at the creation of this puzzle!

  2. jlsnyc says:

    staggering! while i’ve been aware of your site, am grateful to orange for the link. now only because i have a background that includes this kind of arcana, i’m 99 and 44/100ths that the song title at 103d *should* be “well, did you [evah]?” with or without, what a fabulous puzzle, patrick. and thx for the backgrounder, too!

    best —


  3. Patrick Merrell says:

    Thanks, Janie!

    And you’re right, the word “Well” was accidentally lopped off when I was evening out the lines in the layout. A revised pdf is now available. Now you see why crossword editors pay the big bucks to their puzzle testers! :-)

  4. Diane Epperson says:

    Thanks for a challenging and fun puzzle. I can only imagine how tedious it was to construct. How long did it take you?


  5. Patrick Merrell says:

    Thanks, Diane.

    As far as how long it took, all I can tell you is that the window of time I spent working on it was about 10 days back in October, 2005. Most of that time I was working on other things, but I do remember thinking it was one of the largest amounts of time I’d ever spent on a construction.

  6. Elissa says:

    Any chance of you reposting this crossword? I’ve been digging around for unusual puzzles and I’ve seen mention of this a couple times. Your other puzzles are tons of fun – I’d love to give this one a try and see what the buzz was about.

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