It wasn’t exactly an auspicious start.
Within hours of publishing The Times’s first Mini crossword, I’d set off a round of social media hand-wringing for including an abbreviated internet profanity, leading to some nervous moments when I wondered whether my first day on the job would also be my last. (I quickly edited the clue to reference a musical group — “Pop duo with the 2011 #1 hit ‘Party Rock Anthem’” — instead of the slang.)
This was back in the summer of 2014 — Aug. 21, to be exact. In the preceding months, The Times had designed and launched a new crossword app, and the Mini was part of the new package. The idea was simple: We wanted a way to encourage more people to try the main New York Times crossword puzzle, which is considered one of the toughest — and which many beginner solvers find overly intimidating.
Enter the Mini. In consultation with The Times’s crosswords editor Will Shortz, the product director Matt Hural alighted on the concept of adding a 5x5 crossword to the app, essentially a bite-size version of the regular puzzle. It would be offered every day, for free, right next to the main puzzle. The hope was that it would bring beginner solvers back each day until they were prepared to scale up.
As luck would have it, I was graduating college that same year. After several summers spent as an intern, I had recently been hired full-time as Will Shortz’s editorial assistant. I was asked if I wanted to take on this Mini crossword gig and, of course, eagerly accepted.
I had made 25 full-size puzzles for The Times at that point, but this was a puzzle size and format that I had never tried before. And unlike other new products for The Times that might undergo rigorous user testing and market research, the actual content of the puzzles was left entirely up to me.
So the early days of the Mini were experimental, to put it kindly. Many of the initial Minis, for example, contained squares that were only crossed by one answer rather than two, a normally verboten feature in Times crosswords. And while I generally steered clear of text slang after that early fiasco, the rest of that first year was spent fiddling on an almost daily basis with the difficulty, tone and references, not sure what was going to set this little puzzle apart.
Over time, however, I grew to realize that the Mini had a few inherent advantages over its bigger counterpart. First, its diminutive size was actually a huge plus for a new generation of solvers. Because it took only a minute or two to complete, it was perfect for this mobile age of scattered attention spans and fractured free time.
Second, its relative ease of completion made it the perfect steppingstone for solvers who’d long been intimidated by the difficulty of the main puzzle. A large, untapped audience of beginners were now experiencing the joy of filling in that last square.
And finally, because every puzzle was made a few days before its publication date, the puzzle naturally felt more topical, with tie-ins to modern news or politics appearing days after they happened.
In late 2015, the Mini was incorporated into the main news app, and the audience for the puzzle took off. Today it’s solved by hundreds of thousands of people across several platforms: in the newspaper, on nytimes.com, in our app. For a while it even appeared in The Times’s daily Snapchat story.
As the person responsible for making each puzzle, it’s been both thrilling and stress-inducing. After all, there are only so many vowel-heavy five-letter words. (Thanks, OBAMA!)
Sometimes I do genuinely worry that I’ll run out of ideas. My solution has been to draw inspiration for puzzle seed words from all parts of life — a conversation with a friend, the book I’m reading, what’s going on in the news.
That way, the puzzle stays just as fresh for me as it does for the solver.
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金财神中特【欧】【老】【先】【生】【又】【睡】【了】【一】【个】【舒】【舒】【服】【服】【的】【觉】，【醒】【来】【的】【时】【候】，【陈】【旭】【不】【在】【了】，【云】【溪】，【也】【不】【在】【了】，【他】【有】【些】【失】【落】，【出】【门】【的】【时】【候】，【看】【到】【自】【己】【最】【爱】【的】【荷】【花】【池】【真】【的】【被】【填】【平】【了】，【他】【怒】【吼】【一】【声】：“【我】【的】【荷】【花】【和】【鲤】【鱼】【呢】？” “【老】【爷】【子】，【不】【是】【您】【吩】【咐】【把】【水】【塘】【填】【了】【吗】？”【老】【管】【家】【见】【老】【爷】【子】【暴】【跳】【如】【雷】，【吓】【得】【差】【点】【不】【敢】【站】【出】【来】【解】【释】。 “【谁】【让】【你】【们】【填】【了】【我】【的】
【看】【着】【身】【边】【面】【容】【恬】【静】【的】【萧】【宝】【珠】，【叶】【小】【天】【忽】【然】【又】【好】【像】【是】【想】【起】【了】【什】【么】，【偷】【偷】【打】【量】【了】【萧】【宝】【珠】【一】【眼】，【而】【后】【脸】【上】【露】【出】【一】【副】【下】【定】【决】【心】【的】【模】【样】，【开】【口】【道】，“【宝】【珠】，【明】【天】【有】【空】【吗】？【我】【们】【一】【起】【去】【看】【看】【我】【爷】【爷】【奶】【奶】【吧】。” 【萧】【宝】【珠】【没】【有】【多】【想】，【笑】【着】【点】【头】【道】，“【好】【啊】，【我】【也】【有】【好】【多】【天】【没】【有】【见】【到】【爷】【爷】【和】【奶】【奶】【了】。” 【叶】【小】【天】【见】【萧】【宝】【珠】【如】【此】【轻】【易】【的】【答】
【【无】【限】【抽】【卡】【王】】：【什】【么】！【女】【神】【要】【回】【来】【了】？ 【【重】【生】【修】【真】【者】】：【我】【去】，【真】【的】【假】【的】？【神】【豪】【级】【女】【神】【要】【回】【来】【了】？ 【重】【生】【修】【真】【者】【还】【在】【消】【息】【后】【面】【发】【了】【几】【个】【激】【动】【的】【表】【情】。 【【被】【奇】【怪】【老】【头】【寄】【生】【的】【世】【界】【冠】【军】】：【九】【儿】【要】【回】【去】【了】【吗】？【可】【惜】【我】【这】【两】【天】【还】【有】【比】【赛】【回】【不】【来】。 【被】【奇】【怪】【老】【头】【寄】【生】【的】【世】【界】【冠】【军】【发】【出】【了】【有】【一】【个】【失】【落】【的】【表】【情】，【然】【后】【又】金财神中特【所】【有】【人】【都】【到】【了】。 【鱼】【贯】【而】【入】【进】【入】【拍】【卖】【的】【场】【地】，【找】【到】【位】【置】【坐】【下】【来】。 【很】【安】【静】，【很】【少】【有】【人】【在】【教】【堂】，【都】【很】【有】【素】【质】。 【这】【里】【还】【设】【置】【有】【包】【厢】，【都】【是】【给】【大】【身】【份】【的】【人】【物】【准】【备】【的】。 【秦】【舒】【想】，【水】【麒】【麟】【族】【的】【人】，【也】【应】【该】【在】【其】【中】【一】【个】【才】【是】。 【他】【看】【了】【看】【时】【间】【也】【差】【不】【多】【了】。 【果】【然】，【不】【多】【时】，【有】【一】【名】【打】【扮】【很】【漂】【亮】，【腰】【肢】【纤】【细】，【肌】【肤】【宛】
【今】【天】【网】【友】【晒】【出】【了】【与】【周】【杰】【伦】【在】【长】【沙】【龙】【虾】【馆】【的】【合】【照】，【照】【片】【中】【的】【周】【杰】【伦】【看】【着】【瘦】【了】【哦】!【是】【最】【近】【太】【累】【了】【吗】?【心】【疼】 【好】【羡】【慕】【他】【们】【随】【随】【便】【便】【就】【能】【偶】【遇】【周】【杰】【伦】 【还】【能】【合】【影】
【因】【为】【一】【个】【月】【后】【要】【去】【试】【镜】，【所】【以】【苏】【暮】【糖】【将】【李】【承】【拍】【的】【所】【有】【电】【影】【翻】【来】【覆】【去】【看】【了】【十】【几】【遍】，【再】【结】【合】【南】【漾】【给】【她】【说】【的】，【大】【概】【将】【李】【承】【的】【风】【格】【了】【解】【了】。 【然】【而】【在】【一】【个】【月】【后】【苏】【暮】【糖】【准】【备】【兴】【高】【采】【烈】【地】【去】【试】【镜】【的】【时】【候】，【南】【漾】【却】【突】【然】【告】【诉】【她】，【闭】【关】【八】【年】，【李】【承】【再】【次】【出】【山】【拍】【电】【影】【可】【能】【不】【会】【用】【以】【前】【的】【拍】【摄】【手】【法】【了】。 【苏】【暮】【糖】：“……” 【一】【个】【月】【后】，
【镇】【中】【心】【的】【一】【幢】【两】【层】【小】【楼】【外】【聚】【集】【了】【不】【少】【人】，【有】【人】【举】【着】【木】【牌】【高】【喊】【口】【号】：“【放】【了】【他】【们】！”，【也】【有】【人】【聚】【成】【一】【团】【互】【相】【攀】【谈】。 【今】【早】，【一】【个】【喜】【悦】【的】【消】【息】【传】【遍】【了】【整】【个】【雾】【松】【镇】，【在】【街】【头】【巷】【尾】【成】【为】【人】【们】【的】【谈】【资】。 【在】【昨】【晚】，【镇】【子】【里】【最】【为】【恶】【名】【昭】【著】【的】【三】【位】【地】【头】【蛇】【进】【入】【黑】【鸦】【旅】【店】【喝】【酒】，【企】【图】【侵】【扰】【一】【位】【漂】【亮】【的】【外】【地】【姑】【娘】， 【可】【这】【次】【他】【们】【惹】【到】【了】