Tuesday, July 3, 2018

"Personal Development," by John Guzzetta

Constructor's Comments

A long time ago (like, pre–crossword constructing days) I noticed how BUT, BUTT, BUTTE, BUTTER made an interesting string of words.  That string randomly popped into my head recently, and I started trying to come up with grids around this grow-a-word or shrink-a-word idea.  The additional constraints of crossword symmetry, and having the words be etymologically unrelated, and having some rationale tie them all together, limit what works.  I recently saw another great example, when Paolo Pasco used the revealer EROSION to reduce STONE through TONE, TON, ON, finally to O (The New York Times, January 22, 2018).

The string ME, MET, META, METAL requires the first answer to double as the revealer, but I still thought it was pretty cool.  I'm sure there are other grow-a-word or shrink-a-word possibilities, and I would love for others to beat me to them!

Editor's Comments

As John mentions, having the revealer (IT'S GROWING ON ME, in this case) as the first theme entry is nontraditional:  Constructors usually place revealers at the end in order to maximize suspense/not give away what's going on too quickly.  As an editor, I don't mind breaking this "rule" once in a while.  After all, IT'S GROWING ON ME is perfect as both the first theme entry and the reveal, and I still find the theme just as clever.  The only difference is that the puzzle feels more like a Tuesday than a Wednesday since the theme is a little easier to figure out.  I also love all of John's theme entries, especially the fresh and modern THAT'S SO META.  Funny that RARE EARTH METAL could've worked as a theme entry in John's "High Steaks" puzzle from last month, too.

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