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Rick Smith, RiddleMaster >
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RAS - Rick Smith

How I write riddles

Frequently I’ll start with an answer and work backwards to a riddle.  For example the last riddle I wrote came from an incorrect answer I heard at Gencon and thought, “Wow, that would make a good answer to a riddle, I ought to write one”. Sometimes I’ll get a phrase, pun or word play in my mind and just have to write a riddle using that.  Generally riddles come in bunches as a clue used in one riddle leads to the need to write a riddle where that clue is the answer. My riddles tend toward cleverness rather than imagery, although I’m trying to get better at the metaphor and poetic aspects.  I enjoy using nasty misdirections as in the riddle “You Will Find” from Riddle of the Unicorn, and language tricks like homographs (words with the same spelling but with different pronunciations and meanings).

What I like in Riddles

My favorite riddles are ones that require several readings and piecing together several different clues to fully understand. Even better if different parts of the riddle misdirect toward incorrect answers.

My secret identity

In real life I’m a computer geek who has gone over to the Dark Side and become a technology executive.

My Favorite Riddle that I wrote

With just one you can't count past six,
Nor cross the gap to x from v.
You may not speak days of the week,
Though of three months you may feel free.
Most songs you'll find are out of reach
Though you can sing from do to ti.
With one you may read these eight lines
But you can't name that which solves me.

Hints & Answer

I like this one because it is quite challenging, but there is immense satisfaction and surety when you reach the correct answer. And when you know the answer you can go back and reread the riddle and notice how the answer is reflected in the form of how the riddle is written.

My Favorite Riddle I didn't Write

A dozen Royals gathered round,
Entertained by two who clowned.
Each King there had servants ten,
Though none of them were also men.
The lowest servant sometimes might,
Defeat the King in a fair fight.
A weapon stout, a priceless jewel,
The beat of life, a farmer's tool.

Hints & Answer

This one has great imagery and requires putting together very diverse pieces of information. I always enjoyed putting this one up at Gencon and helping people work through it, seeing how simple clues like “What kind of jewel do you think line 7 refers to?”, “What is the beat of life?” and “Which farmer’s tool?” could bring it all together for the solver.
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