I like self-reference, as I think I’ve said before (perhaps I should find a citation).
Follow the Instructions emerged from thinking how one might generate a message in the grid that asked you to do something to itself. Shading is always a good bet in that regard.
A secondary consideration was the fact that the Enigmatic Variations puzzle is squashed into so small a corner that a limited-size grid would be relief for the editor. This was my first puzzle under the new discipline where the EV is only available in the paper, and PDFs cannot be supplied. Except to the setter for editing. of course. (PressReader declined to allow me to print Kruger’s puzzle this past weekend, meaning I had to resort to a screenshot.)
SHADE is a reasonably friendly word to include in a message, so that would be the starting point. It didn’t take long to settle on SHADE THESE AREAS – three lots of five that could readily become five lots of three.
Each group of three also seemed viable as the opening or closing of words, and the idea of overlapping them as a way of highlighting what was to be highlighted followed. Also, five groups, even-numbered rows, implying eleven rows in total, and an 11×11 grid. And it would be more interesting if the grid was Carte Blanche.
It turned out that there weren’t so many words ending -SHA – or even starting HES- – so the placing of the shaded areas wasn’t so straightforward. They ended up asymmetrical – which I’d sort of expected – but their rows remained symmetrical as long as you didn’t try to enter bars. That led to the slightly unusual wording of the preamble as we tried to ensure the point was made clearly.
The grid had one long down entry to indicate centrality – and isn’t SHAD-BELLIED a splendid one? It means ‘flat-bellied’ (not sure it would be seen as complimentary) or ‘sloping away’ in some obscure fashion-related usage. What shape is a shad?
Looks fish-shaped to me.
As always, I will assume you don’t want to hear about writing the clues.
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