Updating one’s resume, or publishing credits, can often yield surprising information.

I am as guilty as any when it comes to being too busy to add new credits to my resume on an ongoing basis. I recently needed to send my resume to a potential client, which meant I had to spend a few minutes updating my credits first. What I didn’t expect were the few hours it would take me to clarify some information with an editor.

I have developed and sold many puzzles over the years. Once you sell a puzzle (with full rights) to a publisher, anything can happen to the puzzle. The puzzle may appear in a book once, or in several books, or not at all, just sitting in inventory until an editor pulls it for the ‘right’ book or publication. In my case, several of my puzzles were used in books I didn’t know about until I made my request.

After several emails back and forth with my editor determining which books and publications had included my puzzles, I suddenly had a longer list of credits to my name than I had previously believed. A nice bonus there. Of course, it was nice to touch base with my editor, and put my name in the forefront on her mind. While I love keeping in touch with editors, I won’t email or call them without good cause. Their time is precious too. And this editor at Brain Games was quite gracious to work with me to unearth the information I sought.

The key to finding out about the additional books, aside from having a great editor, was the detailed list of what I had worked on, with dates, puzzle names, and the names of her predecessors to whom I had sold the puzzles. I didn’t simply go to the editor with the request, “find all the information associated with my name, please.” I had a detailed starting point for her, which undoubtedly made her search easier – never burden your editor if you can avoid it!

In the end, I have my list of credits… and I even sent my updated resume out on time.

How do puzzle developers develop puzzles?

Once you know what type of puzzle you’d like to create, the process is fairly simple. For this example, we’ll create a simple coded message:

  1. Start at the end. Your solution is the starting point. Our solution is EVERYONE LOVES PUZZLES.

     

  2. Remove Pieces of the Solution. In this example, I’ll remove all vowels. That leaves us with _V_RY_N_     L_V_S     P_ZZL_S.

     

  3. Provide Clues. We need to give our viewers a way of determining the proverbial ‘missing pieces of the puzzle’ (the missing information). Your clues can be as simple or as difficult as you’d like to make them.

    Here are just a few ways we could present the hints to our example puzzle:

    • State that the missing letters are all vowels.
    • Provide the missing vowels in a mixed up string, EEEEE OO U
    • Encode the answer, e.g. 5E2O1U. (This means there are 5 of the letter E, 2 of the letter O, AND 1U)

       

  4. This last step is optional, as it doesn’t necessarily impact the puzzle. Most puzzles have a title. In this case, that could be something like “Secret Message”. Often, however, puzzlers will make the title part of the puzzle… another clue. This isn’t a beginnner step, but it does make for a more interesting puzzle – for both the one solving the puzzle and the puzzle developer.

     

The process is the same for word searches, crosswords, sudoku and any other puzzle you can dream up. The key is always working backwards. Don’t forget to test your puzzle once you’re done. You may have to adjust your clues to ensure you have only one possible solution (You certainly may develop a puzzle with multiple solutions, but when you do so, make sure you let your viewers know this!).

Solving puzzles is more challenging when there is only one solution, and so is the developing!