The internet provides a number of forums for those who’d like to write their own cryptic crosswords. Of course, you could always have a go and publish on your own website, but if you feel confident enough and are prepared to open up your work to the solving public at large, then certain sites will give you a publishing opportunity. Try these:
Alberich Crosswords, where you can submit a crossword but there doesn’t seem to be a public feedback mechanism; and Big Dave’s Rookie Corner, where you can get published and receive some great feedback.
Some crossword sites post the odd guest puzzle, not as a matter of routine, but usually to drum up support for a budding setter. A recent posting on David Astle’s blog is one such example.
I honed my skill by joining the Australian Crossword Club, who rely on members to submit puzzles for publication. Members give direct feedback through the monthly magazine, CrOZworld, which gives new setters a chance to learn from a very experienced solving group. Of course, there’s no point using a forum such as this and ignoring comments, especially ones that keep coming up about the same thing, as these solvers are the people a setter is writing for, and the ones that will determine how successful they are. A setter may think they have written a great clue/crossword, but if the solvers don’t agree, then they haven’t, it’s as simple as that.
It’s always important as a newbie setter to establish that you understand the fundamentals of setting before you explore the cryptic boundaries. It’s a respect thing. You’d like to think that those setters who “bend the rules” as a matter of style are also capable of writing a perfectly acceptable bog standard cryptic that could be published anywhere in the world. Some crosswords are so off the mark that you wonder what kind of crosswords the setter is solving/learning from. If a newbie employs non-standard devious devices but can’t get a basic anagram clue right, then is their work worth following?
There’s so much cryptic crossword history if you count time, countries and the number of publications involved, that there is no excuse for a new setter not to have considered the recurring issues that come up in crossword setting. Despite this, comments like this one make me wonder, as the new setter clearly hasn’t formed thier own opinion on a popular device used in their crossword. It’s not a clear-cut issue for a solver (as different setters have different interpretations), but it’s clear as day for a setter. A solver should be able to rely on a particular setter to be consistent when an indicator such as “centre” is used – it should mean the same thing each time it is used, not vary from crossword to crossword or even within the same crossword. Even a term such as “essentially” should be scrutinised so that the setter is 100% happy with using it – use by other setters in published works is not enough to give it a thumbs up – not all setters would use it. My general rule is that what I use should be explainable to a new solver, someone who isn’t tainted by crosswordese and doesn’t just except devices based on past use.
|Across||Answers and Clues||Explanations|
|Bureaucracy is bad with one party involved in fraudulent claim (11)||OFF + I + (DO inside anagram of CLAIM)|
|Test site with a strange religious standard (7)||LAB + A + RUM|
|British capital admitting an act of self-punishment (7)||PENCE outside AN|
|An assortment of needs, plugged by supplement, caused unhappiness (8)||Anagram of NEEDS outside ADD|
|Place to relax in suit (6)||PL + EASE|
|Water storage unit close to sheep is dripping (4)||DAM + SHEE(P)|
|A pretentiousness stuck with noble financial controller (10)||A + CANT outside COUNT|
|Survey taken by another, confused Australian flyer (5-5)||EYE inside anagram of ANOTHER|
|Drug preparation that’s nothing new (4)||Double Definition|
|Case of beer for a time when hands are joined (6)||MIDDY outside A|
|Means of transport featured in concise, abbreviated advertising (8)||RAIL inside (TERS)E|
|Variety of rat spotted in rank toilet (7)||Anagram of RAT inside LINE|
|International shipping company facing strong surge (7)||UPS + WELL|
|Simple writer given space in distributed handouts (4-3-4)||PEN inside anagram of HANDOUTS|
|Down||Answers and Clues||Explanations|
|Complaint investigator shoots male in Middle Eastern country (9)||(BUDS + M) inside OMAN|
|Gas emitter at a more advanced point releasing hydrogen (6)||FARTHER minus H|
|Unusual relic, described in letters, is in demand? (10)||Anagram of RELIC + COMMA|
|Unsettled plains lacking in high areas (4)||Anagram of PLAINS minus IN|
|Disconnected end of rod before fishing (8)||RO(D) + ANGLING|
|Treatment of animal reduced wildness (5)||Anagram of (ANIMA)L|
|Compact kernel of Windows shut down? (6)||CLOSE + WIN(D)OWS|
|Brief put off court to undertake discovery (6)||(DETE)R + CT|
|Attention given in company and bank to yield (4,6)||EAR inside (CO + MOUND)|
|Team implicated in a fraudulent mitigation (9)||Anagram of TEAM inside (A + BENT)|
|Blast new-fangled diet keeping many up (8)||Anagram of DIET outside (MANY reversed)|
|The writer involved with dedicated domestic (6)||ME inside HOLY|
|Hound has butchered all bar one (6)||HAS + (SLE)W|
|Pretentious outfit used by school (6)||KIT + SCH|
|Copy function “broken” by IT technician initially (5)||DO outside [IT + (T)ECHNICIAN]|
|NZ rail passengers returned from Lake Wakatipu? (4)||lAKE Wakatipu reversed|