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Extraneous Letters, as used in extraction, are letters found in a string that prevent it from reading normally. When removed, the string should end up looking normal, and the letters that have been removed will usually spell something important for that puzzle.
Puzzle Application[edit | edit source]
An Extraneous Letters-based extraction is relatively simple to both write and solve with. When presented with a particular string that forms a word or phrase (likely one that's part of a thematic set for a given puzzle), an author can insert one or more letters into the string. While this does destroy the original word or phrase, in most cases they will still be able to be recognized through the obfuscation, allowing solvers to identify which letters are incorrect. Even if this is not the case, the usually-thematic nature of phrases used for this extraction can assist in determining which words. Then, all that's left is to read the "incorrect" letters in whatever order is necessary for the puzzle.
READ --> RED + A ONRANGE --> ORANGE + N YELLSOW --> YELLOW + S GREWEN --> GREEN + W BELUE --> BLUE + E INDIRGO --> INDIGO + R VISOLET --> VIOLET + S ANSWERS
In the above set, some of the strings have obvious wrong letter, such as the W in GREWEN. After enough have been identified, solvers can usually tell what the set is (colors) and determine that the first one is the more thematic RED instead of RAD. Additionally, if these strings were in another order, the discovery of the theme could help reorder them for final extraction.
This extraction method is relatively easy to apply to any puzzle that involves generating a piece of text that fits a particular theme (either via another extraction method or via a puzzle genre like Trigram Hell). Since the strings don't need to form proper new phrases when the extra letter is added, a writer can extract to whatever they need by simply throwing an extra letter into a normal result.
Strategy[edit | edit source]
Examples[edit | edit source]
- The Scottish Display (MITMH 2020) (web) - A Trigram Hell puzzle, in which Click to reveallines from a play are formed. In each one, a single letter has been added, allowing solvers to extract them and discover their next step (as long as they have the right order for them)
- Ladies First (MITMH 2020) (web) - A Tortured Clues puzzle, where instead of clues, solvers are given Click to revealthings that someone was the first woman to do. By reapplying the transformations to these Click to revealwomen's last names, they almost end up with Click to revealthe names of various First Ladies of the USA. Of course, the extraneous letter end up extracting the final answer.