An Insight into How the Coolest Crossword Constructor Makes his Puzzles

by Carol Lee
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Computers can do a lot of things. Do you agree that creating a good crossword puzzle requires human efforts?

Are you the type who loves The New York Times weekend online crossword puzzles and keep trying them enthusiastically? Yes? Great!

Crossword constructor

Did you ever pay heed to the science behind puzzle making?

Did the brilliant clue or its answer surprise you? You are wondering how they come up with those amazing puzzles? Constructing them ideally isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It requires technique, apt knowledge, and precision.

Brendan Emmett Quigley, who is well known as a “crossword wunderkind” tells why crossword construction is not an easy task. Most of the crossword constructors don’t do it for money.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s instinctive attraction towards complicated puzzles attracted him as a kid. His teachers handed them clank sheets in school.

Most of the girls drew unicorns and boys tanks. For some reason, he was the only one who drew complicated mazes.

Brendan’s crosswords have been successfully published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, and The Onion and every puzzle enthusiast love them.

The Norwood native has seen overnight success as his crossword got published in The New York Times. According to Will Shortz, The New York Times editor, “Brendan’s pop-culture inspired puzzles made the next gen solvers more interested in them. The daily crossword puzzles use to be generic but the ‘hip’ touch was added by Brendan.”

His first published crossword

In 1996, Brendan sold his first crossword to The New York Times. That time he was a senior at the University of New Hampshire.

He has always been clever with his theme. This helps him come up with a unique concept every time. Once he smartly broke up the Mike Tyson quote, “I guess I’m gonna fade into Bolivian”.

Working in modern lingo and brand names like Quiznos, EA Sports made him the first puzzle creator who experimented this way.

The unique perspective made all the difference

To your surprise, he is not a fan of word games. He hates Scrabble. There is a lot of pressure he feels.

Many crossword puzzle game making tools help him come out with the best. He does not limit to a particular letter range and does everything randomly.

What else!

Like most of the cruciverbalist, Brendan is an excellent musician, and according to him, there is some connection between the two.

Playing the keyboard and a couple of more instruments is his passion. He was a part of a local band that won WBCN Rock & Roll Rumble in 2006 that started working on another album. Word games made him a rockstar in no time.

He has published a few puzzle books like Drunk Crosswords, Go Yankees, Octopus Crosswords, diagramless Crosswords, and the list is long.

Tips from the pro

Remember his hacks for making great puzzles.

  • Come up with the theme or gimmick for long answers
  • Provide the “fill” for the blank inclusive of ‘spanners’ and ‘repeaters’ (Spanners are words that cross theme answers and repeaters are vowel-heavy words)
  • Write the clues smartly

Ultimately, a well-crafted puzzle appeals to a broader audience. If you love solving them, you can make puzzles. Yes, why not?

Crossword construction is fun. It is worth a try. Give it a shot!

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