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How to Solve Expert Level Riddles: A Thought Process for Simplification

Updated on April 18, 2020
Kyler J Falk profile image

Writing free-verse riddles has always been fun, and letting others solve them even funner.


While analyzing the way people answer my riddles, I've come to question how they break them down, if at all. I've always had a knack for creating and solving riddles, and I would like to share with you my thought process for dissecting and solving them efficiently. Hope this helps!

Gotta Have That Thinking Music

Go Stanza by Stanza

First step of the process in solving a riddle is to go stanza by stanza, making metaphor into literal translations or removing the literal phrases from the metaphor for clarity. Let's take a look at my elusive, expert level riddle #7.

I can enter perception like a breeze hits the face,

Or I can be a brick that brings you to disgrace.

On breathy words I can sail to my place,

And my differences are apparent even in taste.

The answer can be subtle, or blatant. It can disgrace you. It has differences in taste, that could mean literal taste, like food, or opinion so let's leave that open to interpretation.

You can march to war upon my strong back,

Perhaps I'm weak like a wet paper sack.

Presenting me for some could be a knack,

Swaying masses with me will catch you some flack.

People have marched to war using the answer, but it can also be flimsy and unsubstantial. Certain people have a knack for presenting it, but doing so will undoubtedly catch you flack.

You could be the one who from me runs away,

Or you could be the slave who decides to stay.

Will you abstain or join my fray?

Immerse or don't, I'm there either way.

People run away from the answer, some are a slave to it, whichever you choose to do it could be a fight and it is omnipresent.

I can be the creator of that which is not real,

I could be your sword in lieu of steel.

I have many layers, like an onion I peel,

Some go fishing for me and when I bite they'll reel.

The answer is able to create, to be used as a weapon, can be dissected and has lots of layers, and people often seek it almost like hunting or fishing for it.

Proof is not needed for me to be,

Perhaps I'm a veil not letting you see?

I may provide a source for endless glee,

Just realize I will always be me.

The answer does not need to be proven to also be existent, it can blind you from seeing and that may be metaphorical or literal so we leave it to interpretation, it can provide you with unending happiness, but it is staunch in its own definition and existence.

What you see as a lie I can make true,

Lead you astray when you know what to do.

Rigidity keeps me stuck like glue,

The way I change is all up to you!

It can make a lie into the truth somehow (probably metaphorical as lies are lies and truths are truths, no in-between without mental gymnastics), makes people stray from their instincts or off the beaten path they know would work, something about it and rigidity makes it stick to things, and it can evolve based on my decisions about it.

When I form I tend to remain,

By my principles many have been slain.

I create and wash away pain,

And sometimes I put the in- to sane!

Once existent it tends to stay (perhaps stay the same or just existent so leave it to interpretation), it has had principles that others have been slain by, it can create and get rid of pain (all forms of pain I assume contextually), and it can make sanity into insanity which is normally a human trait unless we are discussing events and perspectives of them (leave open to interpretation).

I can only evolve but never be erased,

Perhaps my lineage is easy to trace.

I can wear many a different face,

But in your mind I always have a place.

Once again it is said to be omnipresent, but it can have some sort of history or lineage that is traceable, the way it appears can change, but it is omnipresent in your mind regardless.

Putting It All Together

So here are the traits we should be focusing on as far as what the answer is defined by:

  • Omnipresent (Needs no physical proof)
  • Traceable history or lineage
  • Adaptable/Able to evolve (I can control this with my decisions)
  • Has led to/justified people being killed
  • Creates/Heals pain of some sort (literal, metaphor?)
  • Can make sanity into insanity (people, events?)
  • Makes lies into truth (impossible without metaphor, think deeper)
  • Can cause people to ignore instincts (fear, morality, stupidity?)
  • Rigidity causes it to stick to things (adherence, texture, literal, metaphor?)
  • Used as a veil from the truth (literal, metaphor, actual sight or deception?)
  • Can promise unending happiness (literal, metaphor, physical, metaphysical?)
  • Its existence and literal definition cannot be argued (literal)
  • The answer is able to produce creations (literal)
  • Can be a weapon (literal)
  • Has many layers (metaphorical, lots of information)
  • People seem to always be seeking it, almost hunting (literal)
  • Some run from it while some are slaves to it (literal, metaphor?)
  • Can cause/justify war (literal)
  • Can be flimsy (can't hold water, of little substance, weak?)
  • People have a knack for presenting the answer, but catch flack for it (literal)
  • Can be direct or indirect, subtle/blatant (literal, metaphor, expressed?)
  • Has something to do with taste (literal, metaphor?)

My goodness, that is quite daunting and long, but we can shorten it out by removing metaphor through literal translations, and by comparing what we already know is literal to what is possibly metaphorical. Luckily, this isn't a riddle that determines whether or not you can make it into Heaven, or you're going to Hell, so don't be daunted, no consequences if you try and fail!

Simplify Through Context!

Contextually Literal: Omnipresent, Traceable history/lineage, Adaptable/Able to evolve and you can control this aspect, Led to/justified war/people being killed, Can make sanity into insanity, Can cause people to ignore instincts, Its literal definition is inarguable, Can be a weapon, People always seeking it, Can be flimsy, When it is presented by skilled people they get flack no matter what

Contextually Metaphorical: Creates/Heals pain, Turns lies into truth, Sticks to things based on rigidity of some sort, Hides the truth, Can promise eternal happiness, Has many layers of definition, Some run from it and some are slaves to it, Can be subtle or blatant in expression or practice, People's tastes affect the answer

Simplified traits through contextual observation: So we can surmise that the answer is something with rigid, literal definition, it can't be argued or compared to anything else. It has some sort of deep attachment to metaphor, even religion is in there but that doesn't fit every line. It has all the traits of ideas, thoughts, religion, gossip, and everything steeped in mysticism or the metaphysical, yet the confusing part is that it is a sheer aspect of physical reality. It can make someone or something which seems sane, appear insane, which means it is physically observable or measurable in some way through its enactment or presentation. Deception or interpretation seems to play a big part in the answer itself, so it is safe to say that it is purely subjective in most cases. It is present in everyone and everything, it even alters perception from individual to individual with the use of the word "taste" so this is proof of the subjective nature of the answer as well as what it produces. If it has a history and lineage that means it has traceable record of its adaptability and also its evolution over time or from individual to individual.

Further Simplification: Seems to be some sort of system of interaction, both developing how things interact with each other and with their environment and even acting as a sort of prison for those interactions. The metaphysical and physical traits of the answer seem to dictate the perception of the existence of the answer. Basically, this has something to do with the intake and processing of information as well as the output of it! Now I need to figure out, within this context, what answer fits every connotation, of every line of the riddle.


Don't Give Up!

At this point most people would be content to give up, but not you, no! You're a motherf&%$&%g expert, and this measly little, so-called "expert level riddle" isn't going to get the best of you!

We have managed to break it down to its core, the fundamentals that make up this riddle, and the pieces are all starting to come together. I think I have handed you enough for now, and from here you can take this breakdown and solve the heck out of it! So if you think you have the answer, head on over to riddle #7 and say it in the comments!

If you've been stumped by the riddler, by me, then here is the upside down answer for you! Ready?

The answer to riddle #7 is: sɯǝʇsʎs ɟǝᴉๅǝꓭ/sɟǝᴉๅǝꓭ


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