He told us about what makes a crossword up to his standards, and a little about how he edits the puzzles.
- Crossword puzzles in New York Times must be symmetrical. This is mostly for the aesthetic.
- Every letter must be “checked,” meaning that every letter in an across word, must also be in a down word and vice versa.
- Words should not have double letters.
- A word cannot be repeated within a single puzzle.
Will believes the clues to his puzzles should really make you think. He takes immense pride in his crosswords being creative. He said that in a great crossword, the grids should be packed with lively and colorful words and phrases.
- The youngest crossword “constructor” to be published in the NYT is 14 years young; he was published just this year.
- Will, himself, started writing crosswords at 16.
- Will usually writes (rewrites) about 50% of the clues of the published puzzles. For instance, a clue was submitted for the word aire: clue= "Leds river." Will changed the clue to: "suffix to zillion."
The librarians’ favorite:
Clue: Imply = Infer
****We all know that imply and infer are not synonyms!
Hearing Will talk was really interesting. Only at a place like ALA do you have the opportunity to get a glimpse into the mind of the man whose name you see every day on the NYT Crossword. I never thought of a crossword being about colorful language, but as Will was describing some of his favorite puzzles, it was easy to see the true artistry a “Shortz-caliber” puzzle exudes.