What’s So Great About Writing Crosswords, Anyway?

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People ask me: is writing crosswords fun?

Answer: Yes, it is extremely fun, and one of its joys is getting paid to research themes online.

Consider this: for my April Fool’s Day puzzle, I was forced to read accounts of the greatest baseball pranks ever played in my relentless search for a 10-letter entry to match OPENING DAY in the grid. I read through dozens of April 1st stadium pranks, looking for that perfect one for my grid. Its two criteria were: 1) be a good prank and 2) have a 10-letter punch line for the grid.

CELL NUMBER won out; Mike Trout’s a superstar now, but in 2011 he was a promising rookie whose teammates decided to arrange it so that his cell phone number appeared on the stadium’s scoreboard during a game, along with a suggestion that fans call it to ask him whatever questions they had. Just right for a prank: unexpected, annoying, a little embarrassing, but really funny, too. You think your phone blows up sometimes? Never the way Mike Trout’s did that day.

A common “occupational hazard” among crossword writers is to jump on Wikipedia looking for a new way to clue a word, spend 10 minutes reading articles looking for that perfect clue…and then realizing that you’ve forgotten which word you went to clue in the first place.

How we crossword writers suffer for our art…

Got a good theme you want me to research? Tweet it to #beastxword and I’ll get right on it.

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