Over the years I have produced multiple variations of puzzles where words don’t quite fit, and overhang the edge, and the elements that fail to fit spell something. This is another one of the breed.
I’m also on record (I know) as saying that, in general, I disapprove of having all the clues in alphabetical order. It means a lot of cold solving, but your first pass through any set of clues is cold solving. A more significant issue is grid design. I’ve laboured at numerous puzzles where, even with a lot of clues solved, you can place little because there are just too many n-letter entries, some of which may be unclued, and some n+3-letters entries entered thematically. In one puzzle I solved upward of 80% of the clues, managed to work out the theme, and what transformation was to be made to the grid, all without getting a single word placed.
I allowed myself to weaken for this puzzle because of the word lengths. A 12×12 grid with a ‘(13)’ should start solvers thinking and should certainly limit placements. (I did consider removing the enumerations, but the editor talked me out of it.) Another consideration was the choice of EXCRESCENCES, plonking a word beginning with X (and a reasonably common one, to boot) into the mix without there being any sign of another X in the remaining answers, and with the X the start of a 10-letter answer with only 9-letter spaces to be had.
I did, however, decide that the excrescences themselves would not participate in the 180° symmetry. Can’t give too much help…
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