Crossword Puzzles: Helping an Author’s Word Thingy . . . Vocabulary

Meme from Yahoo Image Search

Meme from Yahoo Image Search

My family is big on crossword puzzles.   There’s a table full of them in the bathroom, a pile of them on the dining room table, and a travel book in at least one of the suitcases.  Now I wasn’t into them until I was in Florida and grabbed a cheap book to keep my mind sharp while working as a cashier.  Also it was a dollar and I figured it could be used as a back-up roach swatter.  Never came down to that.  I’ve since indulged in the local papers, and Sunday Times, crossword puzzles.  I can breeze through the Monday to Wednesday, get slower around Thursday, do decent on Friday, and then I pretend that they don’t have crossword puzzles on Saturday.  Sunday is always a crap shoot.

So what am I getting at?  I remember gearing up to edit Beginning of a Hero, Prodigy of Rainbow Tower, and Allure of the Gypsies.  This is before I made friends with an excellent editor/bestie/mentor, so I was on my own.  I was trying to improve my vocabulary while editing and crossword puzzles seemed to help.  I’d pick up on some interesting words through it and carry those into my writing.  Currently, I couldn’t tell you which parts of my vocabulary came from the puzzles.  I’ve tried my best to integrate it into one collection in my head.  Honestly, I need to get back into those and take them seriously.  The piles have gotten huge, so I’m just trying to make a dent in them instead of retaining information.  I’d toss some, but apparently that’s against the house rules.

Kind of similar to crossword puzzles are the old ‘Search-A-Word’ that many will remember from childhood.  This acted as a gateway puzzle to crosswords and you would have the snobs that looked down on the word hunters.  I loved these things as a kid.  So much that I once bought a collection of 500 of them and spent 2 years working on them at my leisure.  I still remember my system (scatter shot beginning and line-by-line as the list shrunk) and what I learned from it.  Patience when hunting for those final words and being alert when reading.  Searching for that part that is off or following a trail among the mess has helped me sort through my own notes and thoughts.

My love of puzzles in general probably explains my writing process.  Really wish I had the space to do jigsaw puzzles again and maybe frame one or two.  I have a 1,000 piece one that I wanted to make and frame some day.

So it really does pay for an author of every kind to do word-based exercises of any kind.  At least it doesn’t hurt and you never know what you’ll find sitting among the questions and answers.  Though they do seem to love poetic contractions and the word ‘oboe’ for some reason.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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23 Responses to Crossword Puzzles: Helping an Author’s Word Thingy . . . Vocabulary

  1. Sue Vincent says:

    I love puzzles…

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  2. During one of my visits to, and subsequent temp lodging at, various local detention facilities (jail) in my younger days, I began with the “fill-it-in” puzzles. They are laid out like crosswords, but one is charged with… er, um, TASKED with figuring out where the words go. They have many the same words as crosswords, so I had not trouble making the transition to regular ones. Upon release, I became too busy to bother with them and lost my edge. I do word search puzzles now.

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  3. L. Marie says:

    I love puzzles too. I like the WordJewels2 app. It reminds me of Bookworm.

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  4. sknicholls says:

    Greg and I love crosswords, but their is one writer of them that he enjoys most. Lawson??/ I can’t recall, but it’s one of the things we do together.

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  5. merrildsmith says:

    I’m not interested in crosswords or other puzzles, but my husband loves them. He’s a math teacher. He’s does the crossword and Sudoku in the Philadelphia papers and the NY Times. He’s in constant battle with Will Shortz. 🙂

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    • Interesting. It always seemed that the math-minded went for Sudoku while the English-minded went for crosswords. At least in my circle.

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      • merrildsmith says:

        No, I don’t think crosswords really have that much to do with English. They’re still puzzles and logic-related. I think my vocabulary is much larger than my husband’s, but he’s learned crossword skills.

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  6. I’ve got to start doing crossword puzzles again, I was pretty good at them a few years ago.
    That’s a great image by the way.

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  7. 1WriteWay says:

    I used to play Bookworm, but it was so addictive I had to delete it 🙂 I love word games, the ones I can play by myself (I used to get frustrated playing Scrabble when I was a kid). I’d have some jigsaw puzzles too if it weren’t for the cats. When Wendy and Junior get tearing through the house, nothing is safe 😉

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    • I have some jigsaw puzzles that have never been opened. Back in Florida, I put a few together and framed them because it was cheaper than buying art. Maybe some day they’ll get some use.

      Part of me wants to find Bookworm and play again, but I know I have stuff to do.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Wednesday Reblog | K. Leigh Michaels

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