Sunday, May 19, 2013

POC doc.

I became aware of what I like to call a "plural of convenience" (POC) after I tried my hand at crossword constructing.  I remember an early attempt where I had only one pesky corner remaining to be filled.  The solution turned out to be simply a matter of adding an "s" to one of the words in that corner and, kaboom, the grid was complete.  This is a big milestone for a fledgling constructor, believe me.

Imagine that you have invested hours on a puzzle and have filled in all of the grid except the last corner.  There, one possible solution would work except that a word that fits four out of the five required squares, say FANG, is, unfortunately, a letter short of the number of squares in that slot.  And then you see that by simply adding an "S" to FANG, it all falls into place.  Woo-hoo!

Who could resist?    I couldn't, and it appears other constructors are in the same boat.  POCs are as common as dirt in crossword puzzles, even top-tier ones like the NYT or LAT.

That first experience got me hooked on POCs, but I still had a tinge of regret that I had to resort to what is essentially a SHORT CUT in constructing my puzzle..  And if I take pride in the quality of my puzzle, then taking a short cut, though convenient, will blemish my effort.  It's a compromise.  It's suboptimal.

Not all POCs are the same.  I'm seeing four levels, from the common-as-dirt to the deal-killer.

Next:  POC levels.



     

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