Maybe this is news to no-one but me, but it still represents a breakthrough in efficient development of IF. (To recap, the constant war against the independent developer consists of sloth, lack of community, lack of organization, and difficulty in measuring progress). What I’ve discovered is this: coding the puzzles without worrying about the text allows you to map out the plot of the game and to make sure that the pieces are fitting together. Doing this allows you to really develop at a quicker pace, because instead of gnashing your teeth over the perfect spot of prose, you can say, “Ok, everything WORKS, but the words aren’t there yet.” Getting the words right is usually a tougher task for me, but sheer logic, putting the pieces together — that is not as difficult.
Maybe I’m deformed in that I see no great beauty in logic, or derive any intense emotions from the way things fit together. I have a threshhold that the puzzles must pass, but that’s it. They must make sense, they must fit the level of difficulty, they must be well-clued, and they must be fair to the player. But once they’ve cleared that admittedly non-trivial hurdle, then it’s relatively easy to simply grind through all their ramifications, with occasional touchbacks to the overall plot, theme, and characters to make sure that it all works together.
The short and sweet version: code the puzzles first and worry about the prose later.