An interesting sub-problem is to find the smallest possible grid that fits all of the given words.
A naive method would just try over and over at a given size until it hit some threshold: if a thousand attempts can't fit all ten words into the grid, then increase the grid slightly and go over it again. Maybe that's good enough.
The layout of crosswords are a similar problem, except that (1) words are either ACROSS or DOWN, (2) there must be a dead space between two words in the same row or column, and (3) extra letters or nonsense words made from the intersecting direction are not allowed; a dictionary can be consulted to see if intersecting words are actually real words. Often, the dead spaces are dictated beforehand, to arrange them attractively.
[ e d @ h a l l e y . c c ]
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