So that thread on the NYT crossword puzzles over in CS made me think of something I was thinking of this week at work, since I have started doing crosswords myself (I suck at them, and can, at best, get about half of the words in the local papers easy crosword.) Btu I still wonder how they go about making them.
When I was in college, I was an editor for a student magazine, and we had a guy who wrote crosswords (I was told he is actually an amazing crossword writer and solver and has placed in several competitions for both.) His crosswords all had themes, of course, and some were even more interesting (he had one where one clue cold spawn two answers, and depending on which one you went with, decided the answers you’d use for the other clues near it.) I remember hearing that he used some kind of software program, and that the program actually made the grid and filled in the words, and he just wrote the clues, which to me seemed like a cop out. But then, if he uses themes and multiple answers and whatnot, obviosly he must have some control over the words in the puzzle. So does one just tell some software to make a puzzle, and to be sure to use a certain list of words?