A setter is said to have a “style”. What is this and how does it develop? A setter’s style is simply their way of doing things, and usually it starts out as a version of the styles present in a setter’s favourite crosswords. This concept is simple to understand as a budding setter interprets what they see when solving and sets about employing the same toolset.
It’s important that the learning doesn’t stop there as it’s hard to build a house just by living in one: a builder must learn the fundamentals of building to ensure a solid structure and to know where it’s possible to add extensions.
A style is developed as a setter comes to understand more about the different aspects of clues and formulates their own crossword philosophy, which will include certain devices/ideas and exclude others. Typically a setter won’t use devices they don’t like to see in other crosswords, even if they seem generally accepted by solvers and well-established through crossword tradition. Of course, any removal of tools will make clueing harder, so some setters may be reluctant to employ anything less than the full set.
My style changed greatly in the early years as I studied cryptic crosswords through solving, reading crossword books by great setters, and taking the time to listen to feedback from the solvers of my crosswords. It’s pointless arguing with solvers about things they don’t like: the puzzle is written for them and should suit them. Justifying an answer without serious consideration of the solver’s view is a mistake – a change may be necessary, a refinement of style.
It’s hard to see what’s not there: can anyone identify the things I don’t use or don’t do in my crosswords?
|Across||Answers and Clues||Explanations|
|Followed around vessel consisting of many interconnecting parts (11)||COMPLIED outside CAT|
|Effective details connected with race must be lacking a bit (2,5)||INFO + (RACE minus A)|
|Relaxation drug is offered in attraction (7)||(E + IS) inside LURE|
|Doctor nursing one with the trembling condition (6)||DR outside (I + THE)|
|Useless corporation expanding staff in IT (8)||IT outside (POT inside MEN)|
|Bring in auditor before end of session (4)||EAR + SESSIO(N)|
|Head of government to risk return of revolution (10)||CHANCE + (ROLL reversed)|
|Guard, outside an area set aside for driving, is protected (10)||GUARD outside (AN + TEE)|
|Tripe isn’t kept separate from minced stuffing (4)||Anagram of STUFFING minus ISNT|
|A police officer entering docks mixed drinks (8)||A + (COP inside LOPS)|
|Medical preparation doctor at first injected into muscle (6)||(D)OCTOR inside POWER|
|Field maintained by top dog is losing moisture (7)||LEA + KING|
|Old chestnut tree ultimately needed by two farm animals (7)||TRE(E) + PIG + RAM|
|Complete nest got put back inside bonnet (6-2-3)||[NEST + (GOT reversed)] inside HOOD|
|Down||Answers and Clues||Explanations|
|Wine and dine in car, one parked next to a restaurant (9)||(FETE inside CAR) + I + A|
|Voraciously consume wine and rum standing up (6)||(RED + RUM) reversed|
|Stock from deli, especially pork pies (4)||deLI ESpecially|
|Hard wood a man used in unusual design of cradle (10)||(A + MAN) inside anagram of CRADLE|
|Tagged clothing or made-to-order (8)||TAILED outside OR|
|Look after and deal with duck in water (5)||DO + USE|
|Kid around and finish with low score (6)||RIB reversed + DIE|
|Items in budget terrified one involved with acquisitions (6)||budGET TERrified|
|Book of numbers beat record in earnings (5,5)||(HIT + EP) inside WAGES|
|Cleaned below the surface in arranged deal (9)||UNDER inside anagram of DEAL|
|Canberra’s top politician, put in again, rigged electioneering (8)||[(C)ANBERRA + MP] inside anagram of AGAIN|
|Called over heartless lady presenting a challenge? (6)||RANG reversed + (LADY minus AD)|
|Discussion groups beneficial to millions in America (6)||FOR + (M inside US)|
|Packer’s job – handling rights, possibly? (6)||Double Definition|
|Dough stuck on the outside of large jar (5)||CASH outside L|
|Unit used to measure temperature following application of charge (4)||T after FEE|