Constructor's CommentsA 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!