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ADVICE TO WRITERS

New York Times, Sunday, June 4, 2017

Author: Tom McCoy
Editor: Will Shortz
Tom McCoy
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Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 136, Blocks: 78 Missing: {JQX} Spans: 1 Grid has repeated answers This is puzzle # 26 for Mr. McCoy. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Tom McCoy notes: Many of my favorite crosswords are ones that break the rules in some way, whether they use one-letter answers, answers that extend off the grid, asymmetrical grids, or other crazy variations. It might be that I ... more
Tom McCoy notes:

Many of my favorite crosswords are ones that break the rules in some way, whether they use one-letter answers, answers that extend off the grid, asymmetrical grids, or other crazy variations. It might be that I enjoy the variety, or it might just be that a puzzle that breaks the rules has to be pretty good to get accepted despite its transgressions, but in any case I also get pretty excited about a theme that allows me to break the rules a little, as this theme's repeated answer does.

Thanks to all of the English teachers over the years who have taught me the rules as well as when it's okay to break them!

Jeff Chen notes: As a writer (I recently landed a two-book deal with HarperCollins, woo hoo!), I enjoyed the 'rules' Tom featured today. Something so amusing about the image of a professor lecturing to his/her students, saying ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

As a writer (I recently landed a two-book deal with HarperCollins, woo hoo!), I enjoyed the "rules" Tom featured today. Something so amusing about the image of a professor lecturing to his/her students, saying DON'T USE CONTRACTIONS, and then wondering why all the students were tittering.

I smiled at the first one — NEVER GENERALIZE, the entry itself generalizing — and didn't stop until I reached the last one. Er, ones. It confused me to get AVOID REDUNDANCY, and then to get it again. Neat a-ha moment when I realized the meta-wink, using that entry redundantly!

A friend and I were chatting a while back about how Tom is such a standout in Sunday puzzles; how his byline is one of the few that once we see it, we can't wait to dive in. This one wasn't quite as creative as some of his others, but this writer sure enjoyed it. Will does try to space out Sunday constructors so that there's a ton of variety in authors, but I'd welcome Tom's Sunday byline more than every three months or so.

And Tom is one of the few constructors who I'd encourage to use less than 140 words. Will's experiment in this sub-140 space hasn't been too successful in my eyes, but there are a few people who do make me see the value in it. 136 words is incredibly tough to pull off, and there is a handful of MMV, OCA, ESO, STET, RDS kind of stuff. But it's all minor, and the quantity is less than we see in most 140-word puzzles.

Most importantly though, going down to 136 words allowed Tom to feature a lot of long or mid-length bonus material that shines. PIERCED EARS. MADE FOR TV. HOLE IN ONE. MUSICIAN, with its clever [Person of note?] clue. HEYDAYS. ADMIRAL Ackbar for us "Star Wars" nerds. END RUN. Even GOOGLE with a McCoyesque clue, referencing their heavily guarded PageRank algorithm. Great bonuses all throughout the puzzle.

This is the type of trade-off I think is well-worth it. So much great bonus fill for some minor gluey bits (and an odd OVERGO) … that's the way to do a sub-140 word Sunday puzzle.

Looking forward to the next McCoy byline already.

JimH notes: The PDF shows that this grid was hand-drawn in print. Garson Hampfield would be proud.
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0604 ( 24,680 )
Across Down
1. Drawing tool : COMPASS
8. One not acting alone : COSTAR
14. Literally, "great O" : OMEGA
19. Ackbar's rank, in "Star Wars" films : ADMIRAL
20. Relating to an eye layer : RETINAL
22. What fan fiction is not : CANON
23. Writing tip #1 : NEVERGENERALIZE
25. Accessory : ADDON
26. Plant anew : RESEED
27. Lo ___ : MEIN
29. So : ERGO
30. Contractor's guidelines : SPECS
33. Writing tip #2 : POOFREADCARFULY
38. Yearn for : COVET
39. Unlike the wind : SEEN
40. Lead-in to guess or game : ANYONES
41. Got up there : AGED
42. Balneotherapy site : SPA
45. Bi- and bi-? : TETRA
48. Train part : CAR
49. Writing tip #3 : NOSENTENCEFRAGMENTS
54. Relating to a major vessel : AORTAL
55. Hexagonal state : UTAH
56. Invalidate : VOID
59. Restaurant chain with a flag in its logo : SBARRO
62. Band aids : AMPS
65. Make suitable for indoors, as a plant : POT
67. Home of Ithaca, Athens and Olympia : USA
68. Writing tip #4 : PASSIVESMUSTBESHUNNED
74. They go from town to town: Abbr. : RDS
75. That, in Tijuana : ESO
76. Ed.'s request : SASE
77. Cell parts : ANODES
78. "Uh-huh" : YEAH
80. German auto co. : AUDI
82. Flew off the handle : LOSTIT
85. Writing tip #5 : DONTUSECONTRACTIONS
93. Bill Clinton or Barack Obama : LEO
94. ___ group (structure found in proteins) : AMINO
95. Old English letter : ETH
96. Shoot the breeze : CHAT
97. Turn on : POWERUP
101. 4,840 square yards : ACRE
103. Cylinder-shaped pasta : PENNE
104. Writing tip #6 : AVOIDREDUNDANCY
109. Regarding : ABOUT
110. Large Hadron Collider org. : CERN
111. Hoity-toity sort : SNOB
112. Became adept in : TOOKTO
114. 1983 Michael Keaton title role : MRMOM
116. Writing tip #7 : AVOIDREDUNDANCY
123. Operative : AGENT
124. Less watertight : LEAKIER
125. Energetic pooch : TERRIER
126. Graph parts : NODES
127. Knights' needs : STEEDS
128. Primes : HEYDAYS
1. Give the ax : CAN
2. Poem of homage : ODE
3. 2005, to Cato : MMV
4. Ring bearers, maybe : PIERCEDEARS
5. Bring in : ARREST
6. Droops : SAGS
7. It "knits up the ravell'd sleave of care," per Macbeth : SLEEP
8. Doctrines : CREDOS
9. Atop, poetically : OER
10. RR stop : STA
11. Up to : TIL
12. Jungian inner self : ANIMA
13. Knocked to the ground : RAZED
14. Andean tuber : OCA
15. Like the movies "Brian's Song" and "Sharknado" : MADEFORTV
16. Circumvention : ENDRUN
17. It uses the PageRank algorithm : GOOGLE
18. Irritates : ANNOYS
21. Classic camera brand : LEICA
24. Prefix with liberal : NEO
28. Vice President John ___ Garner : NANCE
30. Digitize, in a way : SCAN
31. Bounce along, in a way : POGO
32. Anticipatory days : EVES
34. Gala : FETE
35. Where to find some very wet sponges : REEF
36. Gives in confidence : ENTRUSTS
37. Gosling of "La La Land" : RYAN
42. Tried : STROVE
43. Favorite : PET
44. Santa ___, Calif. : ANA
46. Templeton from "Charlotte's Web," e.g. : RAT
47. Visibly awed : AGAPE
50. "Me neither," formally : NORI
51. Refuse to talk, with "up" : CLAM
52. Conductance quantities : MHOS
53. Like a good proof : SOUND
57. "Makes sense" : ISEE
58. ___ Day (June event, informally) : DADS
59. Not needing a cane, say : SPRY
60. Commanded : BADE
61. Syria's Bashar al-___ : ASSAD
63. Person of note? : MUSICIAN
64. Fee-free spot, briefly : PSA
66. Unruly hair, metaphorically : THATCH
69. Jacob's twin : ESAU
70. Composer of many patriotic tunes : SOUSA
71. Conveyor part : BELT
72. Course part : UNIT
73. Something tacky to hang on the wall? : NOTICEBOARD
79. Stroke of luck? : HOLEINONE
81. Bill Clinton or Barack Obama, informally : DEM
83. It's mined, all mined! : ORE
84. Stayed on the shelf : SAT
86. Homework lover, maybe : NERD
87. Military stints : TOURS
88. Like some audiobooks : ONCD
89. Romance writer Roberts : NORA
90. "Yikes!" : OHNO
91. When repeated, an old sitcom catchphrase : NANU
92. Leave in : STET
97. Character that goes "waka, waka, waka ..." : PACMAN
98. Exceed : OVERGO
99. Wriggled : WORMED
100. Punitive : PENAL
102. Goes in : ENTERS
103. Gently towel : PATDRY
105. Peace signs : DOVES
106. W.W. II danger : UBOAT
107. Cape ___ : COD
108. Early days : YOUTH
113. Patella site : KNEE
115. Much of W.Va. : MTS
117. Mike's confectionery partner : IKE
118. Dungeons & Dragons piece : DIE
119. Like William Carlos Williams's wheelbarrow : RED
120. Actress Peeples : NIA
121. Ron of the Dodgers : CEY
122. '17 and '18 : YRS

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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