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I started with a single-letter English language word. At each step, I added a letter of my choice, then re-arranged the letters to make a new word. I ended up with:

AFTERSHOCK

How did I get there? There may be more than one solution.

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2 Answers 2

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I took a look at my plans for the meal. This was going to be a work of art, a star turn at which everyone would stare. I began by weighing out my caster sugar and, after being distracted by making sure that every place setting had a coaster, added it bit by bit to my charoset to get the balance of sweetness just right. But when my guests discovered that I had unconventionally decided to serve it with shortcake, the aftershock began...

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  • $\begingroup$ Lovely! And a different 9-letter than I chose (I think there are only two that work), so even better. And a cheery story to boot. Full marks. $\endgroup$ Dec 16, 2023 at 21:11
  • $\begingroup$ Qat lists my word as well as rot13(ebpxfunsg, gnfxsbepr, naq genpxfubr), all of which I would be more inclined to write as two words each. One defect in my story is that I think rot13(punebfrg vf zrnag gb or fjrrgrarq jvgu ubarl engure guna fhtne), but let's call that poetic licence. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Dec 16, 2023 at 21:15
  • $\begingroup$ Much the trickiest part was finding a good candidate 9-letter word. And then a good candidate 8-letter word. I tried to rot13(trg evq bs njxjneq yrggref svefg) and it seemed to work out fairly well. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Dec 16, 2023 at 21:16
  • $\begingroup$ My path was (gnfxsbepr) which only has one possible descendant. (ebpxfunsg) seems to be a dead end. Well done, that was very fast. $\endgroup$ Dec 16, 2023 at 21:19
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Some of the numerous solutions (many anagrams)

A AH ASH CASH CHASE CHASER ARCHEST CHAROSET SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

A AH ASH CASH CHASE CHASER CHASTER CHAROSET SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

A AH ASH CASH CHASE CHASTE ARCHEST CHAROSET SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

A AH ASH CASH CHASE CHASTE CHASTER CHAROSET SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

A AH ASH CASH CHASE SACHET ARCHEST CHAROSET SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

A AH ASH CASH CHASE SACHET CHASTER CHAROSET SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

A AH ASH CASH CHASE SEARCH ARCHEST CHAROSET SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

A AH ASH CASH CHASE SEARCH CHASTER CHAROSET SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

A AH ASH CASH CRASH CHASER ARCHEST CHAROSET SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

A AH ASH CASH CRASH CHASER CHASTER CHAROSET SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

O TO TOR TARO ACTOR SCROTA COASTER CHAROSET SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

O TO TOR TARO ROAST CASTOR COASTER CHAROSET SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

O TO TOR TARO ROAST COSTAR COASTER CHAROSET SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

O TO TOR TARO ROAST SCROTA COASTER CHAROSET SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

O TO TOR TARO SORTA CASTOR COASTER CHAROSET SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

O TO TOR TARO SORTA COSTAR COASTER CHAROSET SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

O TO TOR TARO SORTA SCROTA COASTER CHAROSET SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

O TO TOR TORE STORE CORSET COASTER CHAROSET SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

O TO TOR TORE STORE ESCORT COASTER CHAROSET SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

O TO TOR TORE STORE SECTOR COASTER CHAROSET SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

A AH ASH CASH ACHES ARCHES ARCHEST THORACES SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

A AH ASH CASH ACHES ARCHES CHASTER THORACES SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

A AH ASH CASH ACHES ARCHES ROACHES THORACES SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

A AH ASH CASH ACHES CHASER ARCHEST THORACES SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

A AH ASH CASH ACHES CHASER CHASTER THORACES SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

A AH ASH CASH ACHES CHASER ROACHES THORACES SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

A AH ASH CASH ACHES CHASTE ARCHEST THORACES SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

A AH ASH CASH ACHES CHASTE CHASTER THORACES SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

A AH ASH CASH ACHES CHEATS ARCHEST THORACES SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

A AH ASH CASH ACHES CHEATS CHASTER THORACES SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

O TO TOR TORS STORE SECTOR TORCHES THORACES SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

O TO TOR TORS STORE THROES EARSHOT THORACES SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

O TO TOR TORS STORE THROES HECTORS THORACES SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

O TO TOR TORS STORE THROES TORCHES THORACES SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

O TO TOR TORS TAROS ACTORS COASTER THORACES SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

O TO TOR TORS TAROS CASTOR COASTER THORACES SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

O TO TOR TORS TAROS COSTAR COASTER THORACES SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

O TO TOR TORS TAROS ORATES COASTER THORACES SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

O TO TOR TORS TAROS ORATES EARSHOT THORACES SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

or

O TO TOR TORS TAROS SCROTA COASTER THORACES SHORTCAKE AFTERSHOCK

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