So, Just What Is an Acrostic Puzzle?
I've been solving acrostics for so many years now, I often forget that not everyone is familiar with this wonderfully addictive puzzle genre.
How best to describe an acrostic puzzle to someone who's never solved one before? Hmm. I suppose you might say that acrostics are crossword puzzles that tell a story. You begin by filling in the answers to crossword-style clues, and end up with a funny, insightful, or informative quotation, instead of just a grid filled with words.
Adding another layer of depth to acrostic puzzles, the first letter of each answer, read down, spells out the name of the author and the title of the work the quotation is taken from.
Acrostics were the brainchild of Elizabeth Kingsley, a schoolteacher in Brooklyn, New York, back in 1933. Her puzzles were first published in the Saturday Review in 1934. Since that time, acrostic puzzles by various constructors have been published in Harper's Magazine, the National Review, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and numerous other publications.
Acrostic puzzles are also known as crostics, anacrostics, or double-crostics. I think of my version of Ms. Kingsley's puzzle genre as "triple-crostics." That's because all of my puzzles include crossword-style clues, quotation solutions, and a theme. Some puzzles are individually-themed (CynAcrostics), some are themed by volume (American Acrostics, AnimaCrostics), and some are both!
Whether you're a seasoned solver or new to the genre, I hope you find acrostic puzzles as enjoyable and as addictive as I do.
Solving acrostic puzzles is easier than it looks. Simply start by filling in as many of the answers to the clues as you can, just like solving a crossword puzzle. Then transfer the letters from the words list to the quotation grid – the corresponding grid number appears beneath each letter of the answers. (Note: If you're solving using the Egghead Games Acrostics app, the letters will be automatically transferred. If you're solving on paper, you'll transfer the letters yourself.)
As you fill in these letters, words and partial words will start to emerge in the quotation grid. Make some guesses, and complete as many of the partial words as you can. For example, “T__E” is probably “THE,” but it might be “TIE,” or “TOE” or “TEE.”
The number and letter inside each box of the grid indicates where the letter you enter in that box can be found in the answers to the clues. For example, "1 N" means the letter in Box 1 comes from the answer to Clue N. Go to Clue N and you'll find the number 1 under one of the blank spaces for the answer. (Note: Again, if you're solving using the Egghead Games Acrostics app, the letters will automatically be transferred from the grid to the words list. If you're solving on paper, you'll transfer the letters yourself.)
Work back and forth between the clues/words and the quotation grid until all the letters have been filled in. Google a few answers if you get stumped, but no fair peeking at the solution until you've finished the puzzle!
When each puzzle is solved, a pithy quotation from a published work will appear in the quotation grid. In addition, the first letters of the words list, when read down, will spell out the name of the author and the title of the work the quote is taken from.
It takes a little time to get the hang of it, but once you do you'll find that solving acrostic puzzles is extremely fun, and highly addictive!