Friday, July 6, 2007

Contemplating the Complexity of Clue Writing

To give hints or not to give hints? That's what I'm asking myself.

In the last year, I have planted a number of letterboxes covering a wide range of "types". There are drive-by, indoor, longer hike, kid friendly, straightforward walk-you-to-the box clues, and clues that are a bit more of a challenge. I have yet to plant a box designed for night time hunting, but that is coming. Basically, I have something for almost everyone.

But I also have a dilemma. At what point (if at all) do you give people help to send them in the right direction to find a box? It does not bother me if everyone does not find each of my boxes on the first try. A couple of them are actually designed to be...Hard. *Gasp* It isn't supposed to be easy to hunt a Tiger in the jungle or rescue a Princess from a dragon or spot the elusive Mermaid, is it?
So, after careful consideration, here is a compilation of possible scenerios and my likely response to them (any similarity to actual occurances is purely circumstantial evidence no matter how familiar or likely it sounds):
  • Contact: “Your letterbox is lost because the building it was in moved.”
    Response: Stupified stare complete with chin drop and stunned silence. Extreme urge to respond sarcastically about their future in letterboxing.
  • Contact: “Which fork in the trail were we supposed to take again?”
    Response: No response whatsoever. Identifying trails when you aren’t even there is much worse than trying to identify which fallen tree a clue is guiding you to.
  • Contact: “I was in the woods and saw the bridge in your clue about a quarter of a mile ahead on the right. Didn’t find the box though.”
    Resonse: A raising of the eyebrow (because the clue does state that the bridge should be to their right), but only a vague email in response suggesting that they follow the clue more closely.
  • Contact: “Looked for your box today, but the plant overgrowth made it difficult to follow the clue. Will try again.”
    Resonse: A sheepish grin and self-kick in the pants for writing a clue that couldn’t be followed in all seasons. Plans to remedy that problem ASAP.
  • Contact:“Your clue states that the letterbox is in Such n Such park, but we can’t find an address for that park. Can you tell us where it is?”
    Response: Palm smack to the forehead for stupideocity. Just because it was called that when you were a child and everyone around home knows what you’re talking about even though the park has been through three name changes since then doesn’t mean a non-local would. Email the corrected information with apology and change the clue.
  • Contact: “We found your box even though the sign mentioned in the clue was vandalized and found lying in the parking lot.”
    Resonse: A congrats email sent thanking for the update and an immediate rewrite of the clue.
  • Contact: “We turned over every leaf and stick in the forest and found pieces of the container and stamp embedded in Racoon poo. Sorry, we couldn’t find any of the logbook to stamp into.”
    Response: Another chin drop and stunned silence followed by the immediate mailing of a full color copy of the original stamp image, a handmade logbook as a thank you…and a box of disinfectant wipes.

How do the rest of you decide who to ignore and who genuinely could use a nudge in the right direction?

1 comment:

  1. this is great! it also makes me very cautious about contacting box-owners with similar sounding excuses. but, in my defense, we DID find a box that had been listed as missing, right where it was supposed to be. it takes all kinds.


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