I'm struggling somewhat with the issue of repeating entries in puzzles. Not in a single puzzle, mind you -- that would be right out, unless repetition was a theme of the puzzle. I mean repetitions across multiple puzzles. In some circumstances, this is clearly okay. In your typical crossword puzzle, you have somewhere between 60 and 75 entries, and nobody's going to bat an eyelash if OLEO shows up in both the Monday and Tuesday NYT puzzles. As the number of entries per puzzle goes down, the oddness of repeated entries goes up. My Marching Bands puzzles have roughly 50 entries each, and when I noticed that I was using one particular entry in both MB #2 and MB #3, I was momentarily taken aback. And I was most frustrated when the only word I could find to finish Spiral #2 had also been used in Spiral #1 -- the spirals only have 30 or so entries apiece, so repetitions stick out even more. But maybe it's just me.
In both cases, there is one important mitigating factor. In both the Marching Bands puzzles and the spirals, I used the repeated entries in different ways each time. In MB #2, the word in question appears as a Row answer, while it appears as a Band answer in MB #3. In the two spirals, the repeated word is broken up in different ways in the opposite direction, so the "crossing" words are very different. At any rate, even if the repetitions are unusual, I don't think you could say I was plagiarizing myself in either case. On the other hand, Spiral #4 contains a multi-word stretch that first appeared in a spiral I wrote for a pre-Mystery Hunt warmup (which I think is findable online, but I'm not going to link it here), and some of the same crossings are used as well. I was well aware of the repetition when it came up; I had the same few letters left over from a previous word, and I liked one of the entries so much I decided to use it again, lest it languish in a puzzle that only one or two people saw. Is that a bad thing?
One other issue with repeated entries concerns the cluing. If at all possible, I try to use different senses of the word each time it is clued, and while I may be forced into using the same entry in more than one puzzle, I certainly don't have to use the same clue. There are stock clues for certain words, of course, but I should always be striving for fresh clues. I do feel like cluing is one of my weaknesses, though, so when I find a weak spot in my fill, I feel a little vulnerable as a constructor. If I could have come up with alternate entries in either Spiral #2 or Marching Bands #3 I would have, but as it stands I think I'd have to rewrite much of either puzzle to avoid the repetition. It's frustrating, but I think repeated entries are something I just have to live with from time to time.
What do you think?
ETA: Ugh, how did I not notice this? In Marching Bands #2 and #3, there are actually two repeated words! That's starting to get excessive...
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