This is a perennial problem for this blog, but it’s also the case for puzzles.
The new puzzle I’ve put up today is an exception, as it happens. It’s an Inquisitor from 2014, and it’s been up on my schedule for future use for quite a while. The prompt for it came from a message from another setter who had done a neat puzzle on a related theme. By delaying it so long, I have also managed to coincide with starting work on a new puzzle on another related theme, so it feels timely.
It’s a reasonably recent puzzle, so it has its own setter’s blog on the site, as well as a blog on the fifteensquared site. I have put links to both of those on the solution page (try the puzzle first, people…). Rereading my setter’s blog I note that I said it was a puzzle that was driven by the title which came right at the outset.
Would that were always so. I am currently working on a puzzle where the theme is straightforward enough, but I don’t want it revealed too early. So I need a relatively cryptic reference in the title. I thought I had it, too, using a lyric from a song, but I’ve since realised the lyric repeats in different contexts, so I shall have to try again. There’s a simple fallback position which I’d rather avoid, but I suppose at least it’s there.
If you early puzzles are all variants of The Labours of Hercules N then you can put off the title hunting for quite some time! Sometimes it’s obvious – a puzzle where the entries included jumbled diseases had to be called Disorders. As for ones that took a bit longer to land, my favourite was The Consequences of Being Mortal – I doubt anyone started that expecting it to be themed on hangovers.
A sort of reverse process is also encountered – if the title was not distinctive enough, then scanning my list of published puzzles leaves me wondering why on earth I would give a puzzle that title? It’s then a voyage of discovery through the box-files to find out – and sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised. Then again sometimes it’s clearly a resigned shrug at making the best of a bad job. Most annoying of course is the why-oh-why didn’t I think of this back then?
Nothing titled, neatly or otherwise, coming up in the next fortnight. It’s sort of the time of month for a Toughie, but I haven’t yet heard if so – keep your eyes peeled. There’s the usual Independent Friday appearances on 9 and 16 October, with the latter being joined by a Times Quick Cryptic and a Church Times puzzle for a busy day. Some time over the next week I shall put up the blog on my September Crossword Centre puzzle but the closing date is not yet past – you still have time to enter!