The wonderful, if slightly fruitily-worded, sentiment above comes from a talk given by Mike Selinker. Mike has co-written a hundred installments of the PuzzleCraft series, describing how to construct puzzles of sundry types, in the US’ legendary Games Magazine over the years; Mike and co-author Thomas Snyder (whose record in the World Puzzle Federation’s global puzzle and sudoku competitions is among the very best) have also compiled a book, updating these instructions, and including sample puzzles as examples. The book, of full title PuzzleCraft: The Ultimate Guide on How to Construct Every Kind of Puzzle, is widely available online from your stockist of choice. (This site doesn’t “do” affiliate links programmes.)
Perhaps “Every” kind of puzzle is pushing it, but not actually very hard. There are well over seventy different types of puzzles discussed here: various types of knowledge puzzles, observation puzzles, manipulation puzzles, all sorts of word puzzles – all manner of types of crosswords – logic puzzles featuring numbers, patterns, paths and pure logic, plus discussion of plenty of other types of puzzles along the way.
The writing style is breezy, often funny, and very directly conversational. There’s a thorough explanation of how each puzzle works, an example – usually a really polished example of the genre – along with a set of techniques about how to break the construction down into manageable steps, and how the techniques were used in that particular example. The discussion of the specific puzzle types is pragmatic enough that you may not get much out of it unless you use it for its intended purpose and actually set puzzles, but the more general discussion of puzzles at large reflects the authors’ practically unparalleled breadth of experience and is great general reading to leave you excited about the potential of the world of puzzles at large.
One big caveat is that this book doesn’t consider exit games as such, and the embedding of paper-and-pencil puzzles within exit games would have to be handled with great care to avoid jarring. This site is not aware of either author having been involved with the genre yet, but would be delighted for that to change. The section at the start of the last chapter in which Selinker describes a puzzle hunt he ran at the PAX convention in 2009, as well as all the other events described on his Lone Shark Games site, will fill you with every confidence that he could do something quite delightful in the genre if he wanted to. As Reiner Knizia would put it, “so much to do and so few turns“!
If you do have an inclination to construct puzzles, there surely can only be a couple of very specialist types of puzzles where there might be more specific, in-depth guidance available. Even if you don’t, this book comes extremely highly recommended in the context of containing a really wide variety of very fine puzzles to solve. At a third, more general level still, it’s a wonderful, cheerleading love-letter to what puzzles can achieve at their finest. Bravo!