This one had been sitting in my ideas list for years until the other year a local theatre staged Waiting for Godot and I was prompted to follow it through. I don’t know how I first noticed that the two main protagonists had names of the same length, that Estragon had no repeated letters, and that you could therefore code him to Vladimir (but not vice versa). Not only that but GONE + RATS went to MIRV + DIAL using each letter only once. All of that was implicit in my memorandum regarding the idea.
Perhaps the actual question is more what extra you do. It’s easy enough to sit down with the nice friendly letters of ESTRAGON and to see how many real words you get from VLADIMIR. Quite a few, as it turned out, and I’d hoped to get all the four-letter entries coded, but that was not to be; I ended up having to create a couple of extra 4-letter entries to get a grid-fill..
It still didn’t seem quite enough. So I coded GODOT (as far as I could) to MIDIA, and POZZO to PIZZI, and LUCKY – well, he was easy. PIZZI immediately suggested PIZZICATO and it didn’t take long to find a (very) few words with MIDIA somewhere along their lengths. So the whole cast could be accommodated –excluding the boy who acts as a messenger from Godot.
The next hurdle was the preamble. It’s not an obvious code to explicate, and I wanted to drop a hint or two if I could. I eventually hit on Shakespeare (theatre) and ROSALIND (8-letter character with no repeats) who coded to GANYMEDE (associated character – well, OK, actually the same person – also 8 letters, and one repeat). (Well, I do have form with that idea.)
Was that enough of a hint? Probably not, but it was the best I could come up with. The main aim then is to write clues to the encoded entries that are relatively easy to solve, which isn’t actually that straightforward – what is easy for one person is tricky for another. It’s also quite easy to write a hard clue for a short word – after you’ve clued common words enough times, you do tend to start looking for a novel or unexpected approach, which by definition is harder for the solver, who also has to find it. But you don’t want them to be giveaways – ideally, for any given solver, some of the clues are easy, some come with a little effort, and a couple may need a bit of coding elucidated to help. Not sure that’s actually doable!