Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The 100th Birthday of Crossword Puzzles!

I'm a cruciverbalist.  Well, at least partly.  The word means crossword puzzle fan, but it also means someone who designs them.  I've never gotten into creating my own crosswords--but I sure solve a lot of them.  Or at least try to.  Sometimes, in the hardest ones, I'm only able to figure out some, but not all, of the words.  But most of the time I do fine.

I'd never considered attempting to figure out the origin of crosswords until recently, when I read that the 100th birthday of crosswords is about to occur.  The person credited with originating them--even though there were word games preceding his--is Arthur Wynne, who was a journalist in Liverpool, England.  Supposedly, he had a "word-cross" puzzle published on December 21, 1913, in the New York World, and those in the know consider that to be the first crossword puzzle as we now know them.

The thing is, I've loved words for as long as I can remember.  And grammar and punctuation, but vocabulary wins over them.  That's probably part of why I became a writer.  I get to work with words all the time!  To choose them and manipulate them until they say just what I want them to, and to build characters and plots and descriptions until they're all wrapped up in what hopefully will be a good story. 

I also like to do other related kinds of word games, like acrostics.  That way I can both figure out words from their definitions, and then insert their letters into a grid and figure out a mini-essay there, usually a quotation from a source disclosed by the first letters of the definition words.   

I've done crosswords for so long that I really admire those who create them, who define the words in offbeat ways at times, or even use puns.   

I used to do them only in books, or sometimes in newspapers.  These days I do that, too, but it's a lot of fun to do them online.  In fact, I slipped away to work on yesterday's L.A. Times puzzle on its website as I wrote this post!    

Can't wait till I start on my next puzzle--even though my pups are telling me it's time to take care of their cravings, first.  So, here I go... 

How about you--are you a cruciverbalist?  What kinds of crossword puzzles or words games are your favorites?


Betty Hechtman said...

I always do the crossword puzzle in Peaople magazine when I fly. It is easy enough that I can do it without any help.

I can't imagine how people create them.

Linda O. Johnston said...

I once tried to come up with some crosswords for a promotion, Betty, and decided not to try again after that!