This is an answer that would potentially be posted on my most-popular puzzle, Hearken, now, and listen close!
Meta-note (this is in response to the question above, and not part of my actual answer):
I have included spoilers in this answer, in response to point #4 in the original post above. This is mostly to demonstrate that it is ineffectual to do so. The post becomes extremely fragmented (or, alternatively, becomes one huge spoiler). Note that these answers will never be the accepted answer, and thus will never be the first one displayed. The will also always be posted after the solution has been found, so in my mind spoiler-tagging them is unnecessary and cumbersome.
How it was made
This is not a solution to the puzzle, but rather a commentary on how this puzzle came to be, for those who are interested.
CAUTION: This answer contains spoilers for the puzzle.
Being familiar with
I thought it would be fun to create a puzzle containing them. I thought I could create a story where each paragraph
left out a certain letter,
and those letters combined to provide the solution.
But then I realized that, especially with less-common letters, it wouldn't always be obvious
which letter was being excluded.
This led me to the realization that every paragraph would have to
contain every letter of the alphabet, except the one being excluded.
Being an aficionado of rhyme and poetry, I decided to create the puzzle in verse.
I initially thought that the puzzle might be too difficult without any hints, so I decided to build a hint into the puzzle by making the
first letter of every line combine to provide the hint.
Partway through, I realized that would be too difficult, so instead I just made it
all the uppercase letters,
which proved to be a little more manageable.
I came up with a phrase that I thought would be a good solution to the puzzle, and then got to work.
I found some online resources, including:
A rhyming dictionary (this was useful in helping to find rhymes to complete each stanza)
A thesaurus (this was useful when I needed a word, but it contained the "forbidden" letter; I used a synonym without that letter instead)
Lists of words containing Q, X, Z, and J (these were helpful in finding not-too-obscure words that would "use up" these letters so that I could get every letter into the stanza)(words like "just, enjoy, equal, quiet, quite, quick, fix, text, excel, lazy, gaze, puzzle)
I set up a spreadsheet in Excel that would
count the number of each letter in a paragraph, and tell me which letters did not yet appear.
Then I started composing the rhymes. I was somewhat constrained by the requirement to
have the uppercase letters spell out the hint,
but I could be a little flexible in that regard by abusing punctuation -- especially semi-colons.
I didn't have a clear idea of what the poem was going to contain when I began -- I just kind of "winged it." I noticed after about 4 stanzas that the subject matter was becoming a little redundant, so I started trying to change it up a little, by leaving some oblique hints.
When beginning each new stanza, I tried to
get a number of words containing less-common letters like J, Q, V, X, and Z
into the first couple of lines, so that I wasn't struggling to
cram too many letters in at the end.
When I got to the second stanza, I realized I had a challenge ahead of me, because I needed to
include every letter except U, which means I needed to figure out a way to get Q in there without an accompanying U. There are a few words that have Q without U, but none is particularly common, and they would stick out like a sore thumb.
I eventually came up with the idea of
referring to the letter itself, in the common phrase, "mind your P's and Q's."
I think it worked out quite well.
It probably took about 4 hours over the course of an evening to construct all 11 stanzas. I revised things several times until I was satisfied with the content, metre, and rhymes.
I learned afterward that I didn't need to build the hint into the puzzle (although I still think it added something to the puzzle). It was originally solved without the hint, which was only discovered after the fact. People on this site are good! (Although in retrospect, it probably wasn't as hard as I thought, either.)