Yesterday I shared some puzzles – which I also shared with my writers yesterday – we had a good discussion and some of the answers were found quite easily, some eluded them completely!!
Here are the answers:
- Romeo and Juliet – Romeo and Juliet are found dead on the floor in a locked room; it’s empty except for them, a table and a dog. There is water and broken glass on the floor. How did they die? Answer: Romeo and Juliet were goldfish. The dog had jumped up at the table and knocked their goldfish bowl onto the floor.
- How Many Babies? – A woman gave birth to two babies on the same date – the same day, month and year. However, they are not twins. Why not? Answer: They are two of a set of triplets.
- Who is the Surgeon? – There is a terrible accident in which a boy and his father are injured. They are both taken to the hospital and the boy is rushed to surgery. The surgeon enters the room and looking at the boy exclaims “I can’t operate on him, he’s my son!” How can this be? Answer: The surgeon is the boy’s mother
- The New Driver – A young woman has just passed her driving test. As she leaves the driving centre, a police officer notices her turning into a street for buses only and proceeding down it. The police officer takes no action. Why not? Answer: She is walking down the street
- All is Black – A mysterious man is dressed all in black, black clothes, black gloves, black hat and a black mask. He stands in the middle of a road surrounded by black windowless buildings. The street lights are broken and there is no moon. A black car without headlights drives straight towards him but doesn’t hit him. Why not? Answer: It’s daytime
- The Man in the Pub – A man walks into his local pub and asks the barman for a glass of water. The barman pulls out a gun and points it at the man. The man says ‘Thank you’ and walks out. What has just happened and why? Answer: He’s a regular at the pub and the barman hears he has hiccups, so pointing the gun gives him a shock which cures his hiccups
- The Man who Hanged Himself – There is a large wooden barn which is completely empty except for a small, wet wheelbarrow and a dead man hanging from the middle of the central rafter. The rope around his neck is ten feet long and he is suspended five feet off the ground; beneath him is a pool of water. The nearest wall is out of reach for him and it’s not possible to climb up the walls or along the rafters. The man has hanged himself. How did he do it? Answer: He stood on a big block of ice which has melted
- Death in a Field – A man is lying dead in a newly ploughed field. There are no foot-prints anywhere in the field, no tyre tracks or wheel marks. Next to him there is an unopened package. There is no other person or creature in the field. How did he die? Answer: The package is an unopened parachute which failed to open when he jumped from a plane
- The Coal, the Carrot and the Scarf – There are five pieces of coal, a carrot and a scarf lying on a lawn. Nobody put them there, so how did they get on the lawn? Answer: There was a snowman which has since melted
- Push That Car – A man was pushing his car along and stopped outside a hotel; at that very moment he knew he was bankrupt. How? Answer: He was playing Monopoly.
How did you get on? All right? The point of the exercise was to remind people about how they can spring surprises on their readers by misleading but not lying… the answer has to be obvious once it has been guessed from all the clues seeded throughout the piece!
I’ve mentioned before that one of the best endings of any book I have ever read is in ‘On Beulah Heights’ by Reginald Hill. The answer is in the very last line, and is perfect! Another ending which was just brilliant was in ‘The English Passengers’ by Matthew Kneale – I had to read the last lines a couple of times before I fully appreciated the skill and cleverness of Kneale, and the perfect ending he’d conjured.
I try really hard to have good (I only aspire to perfect) endings… here is a link to my books – please let me know what you think!