Solve the crossword then slide the blocks to create another configuration with eight new words.
5. Before long
3. Frost, for example
The solution to the crossword is:
And this can be arranged as:
After several failed attempts, I started with
P?Nin the upper left, and
TENDalong the bottom: the first two because they could be filled with many vowels (giving me freedom to move the vowels around if necessary), and the latter because all of those letters were very common as ending letters. Next came
ALOE, because I'd need vowels in the middle-right area, and then
IRONwas the best word ending in
ON. After that, I placed
NOED, and was disappointed that
PELEwas a proper noun, not a word (and
CEROwas obscure too)... then didn't realize until the next day that I could just swap the
Oto fix it.
But is this solvable as a 15-puzzle?
Yes: The 15-puzzle is solvable in exactly half of its positions, based on parity of swaps. If you can't get to a particular position, you can always get to that position with any two tiles of your choice swapped. So, if your correspondence of numbers to letters fails, simply swap two of the tiles with the same letter and it will be solvable.
An explicit solution:
Number the tiles 1-15 so that the puzzle is "solved" at the very start, in the given configuration. (You can use this applet to try it out, as I did.) Then move the following tiles. (Parentheses represent a sequence that should be repeated once.)
12 8 (7 6 10 9 13 14 15 11 8): TEND is now in the bottom row.
13 14 5 (9 10 3 2 1) 3 14 5 10 (14 3 9) 14 3 10 5: PCAT is now in the left column.
13 7 6 4 1 14 9 2: IOLE is now in the second column.
4 6 7 4 6 1 (14 6 1) 4 7 14 4 1 9 3: The puzzle has been rearranged into the new grid.
Initial grid as follows: