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11
General Discussion / Re: How do you guys come up with good crossword clues?
« Last post by stickler on April 11, 2017, 09:32:03 PM »
I'm going to admit to being a complete novice when it comes to writing US crosswords, but, as a writer of over 6000 published cryptic crosswords, and a fan of US crosswords, I'd like to offer some observations. A cryptic clue has two distinct parts, the definition and a secondary part often called the wordplay.  A good cryptic clue puts these two parts together seamlessly and the only way to do that is to explore every aspect of the definition possible. That is, the more options you have with the definition, the better chance there is that you can find a matching wordplay. My goal with the definition and the goal of the typical US crossword writer is the same. My advice is to explore every aspect of the answer, meaning look up the word to be clued in multiple dictionaries and thesauruses (including doing searches of the entire reference's entries), Wikipedia etc, and find out where it's used, what it's part of, use around the world etc. With a lot of information something should emerge that's a little different to normal that hopefully will add spark to your clues.

The Stickler

www.stickler.com.au for a free weekly international cryptic with clue help and worked solutions
12
General Discussion / Re: How do you guys come up with good crossword clues?
« Last post by 4wd on April 11, 2017, 05:07:37 PM »
4wd: That may be a big part of my problem: I'm trying to rush the process. It might help if I take a couple of days to think over my fill and play around with the possibilities.

yup, it'll help you lots, I rushed stuff as well when I started was only till I took it easy that everything clicked.
 Another habit of mine is to print the filled grid with the clues, that way its easy to edit/update em. Looking at a screen all the time can distract you, pencil and paper works best for me.
13
General Discussion / Re: How do you guys come up with good crossword clues?
« Last post by ryanspuzzles on April 11, 2017, 04:28:17 PM »
4wd: That may be a big part of my problem: I'm trying to rush the process. It might help if I take a couple of days to think over my fill and play around with the possibilities.

Glenn9999: That actually does help a bit, and it confirms my suspicion about the fill/clue connection.

Let me add some detail here. I make a weekly puzzle for our local library and I figure most of my audience doesn't do very many crosswords so I try to keep it between Monday and Wednesday level.

Quote
From what I gather in all of my puzzle solving and what I've read, the words in your grid (i.e. "sparkling fill" according to the guides here) are what keeps it from being "pretty bland"

I've actually stopped using themes so that I can focus on fill for a bit. It seems to be helping so far.

Quote
What do you mean by "pretty bland"?

I guess by "pretty bland" I mean most of my clues come across as the sort of brief "definition" clues you see in big puzzle magazines (like [Morning moisture] for DEW, [Notable time in history] for ERA, etc.) To me those sorts of clues are fine in moderation, but I still want to toss in some fun clues and a tiny bit of wordplay to keep the puzzle just a small bit... puzzling.
14
General Discussion / Re: How do you guys come up with good crossword clues?
« Last post by Glenn9999 on April 11, 2017, 11:43:16 AM »
But more often than not, the set of clues I come up with is pretty bland.

What do you mean by "pretty bland"?

So I was wondering: What are your strategies in coming up with clues? Also, are there any good references or resources out there that you use to help brainstorm?

I haven't been able to successfully build a complete grid yet - my biggest obstacle.  This is mainly for coming up with words/phrases that are interesting to me that'll work with the themers I have in the places I have them - probably could if I did allow that "bleh" feeling to creep in.  From what I gather in all of my puzzle solving and what I've read, the words in your grid (i.e. "sparkling fill" according to the guides here) are what keeps it from being "pretty bland" - which is why I asked what you meant by that exactly.

As for clue writing (something I got a whole lot more confidence in when I get to that point), a lot depends on your theme and your targeted difficulty (day).  The big key is making sure your clues are syntactically correct and interesting.  Monday clues are going to (perhaps) be a lot more "pretty bland" simply because you want to point them more directly to the answer, while you get to play around more with later week stuff.   Your chosen theme, and the prerogative of the editor will play a large part in how much of your clues survive if the editor takes the grid.  Several of those "advice posts" to the left also suggest to not be too "cute" with a lot of your clue writing, which may be the kind of advice you're needing.  Note several puzzles are cataloged in different places, and you can always use them to look up your fill words and see how they have been clued in other grids.

So maybe your advice might be the same that I probably need to take with my grid building: To not worry so much.  Hard to tell, though.  See also, this.

Not sure how much of this helped, but hopefully it does.
15
General Discussion / Re: How do you guys come up with good crossword clues?
« Last post by 4wd on April 11, 2017, 09:44:18 AM »
I usually don't rush the clue writing process, I'd spend a week or two writing clues. A slow and steady approach works best for me, sometimes I'd get a clue idea when I wake up at night or just going about the everyday routine, so just giving yourself that time to ease into it you tend to write better clues and come up with unique ideas.

edit: added a little more detail

within the 1-2 weeks spent on clue writing, I'd spend time improving initial clues, crafting different variations or brand new clues for particular entries, having multiple cluing options comes in handy as they can be used in future puzzles.

16
General Discussion / How do you guys come up with good crossword clues?
« Last post by ryanspuzzles on April 10, 2017, 05:51:28 PM »
Hey everyone!

Cluing is my biggest obstacle in constructing a crossword. My main strategy is to vary the subject matter across entries so that the puzzle is at least entertaining. But more often than not, the set of clues I come up with is pretty bland. It's especially hard to come up with the harder clues that rely on wordplay and misdirection (the kind you see in Friday and Saturday NYT puzzles).

So I was wondering: What are your strategies in coming up with clues? Also, are there any good references or resources out there that you use to help brainstorm?
17
Today's Puzzles / The April 9 Sunday puzzle
« Last post by Thomps2525 on April 09, 2017, 05:20:00 PM »
Today's Sunday puzzle -- or perhaps I should say "unday uzzle" -- is by Gail Grabowski and is titled "Spout Nonsense." That first word is to be read as "SP out." The eight theme answers are familiar phrases with the first two letters, SP, removed:

Plumber, at times? ELLCHECKER
Herb-carrying semi? RIGOFPARSLEY
Unlikely to get sick? ILLRESISTANT
Flat-bodied fish depiction? RAYPAINTING
Boxer in the wrong profession? RINGCHICKEN
News of a crude carrier sighting? OILERALERT
One with a questionable sense of fashion? IFFYDRESSER
"Jush one more, bartender," e.g.? LITDECISION

"Spiffy" dates from 1853 and comes from the 17th-century British dialect word "spiff," which meant "a dandy; a well-dressed man." The origin of "spiff" is unknown. The 18th-century British slang word "spiflicated," which means "drunk," might be related to "spiff" -- and it might not. In modern-day British slang, "spiflicate" means "to destroy or annihilate" and "spiffy" is often "spivvy."

A spring chicken is a chicken from two to ten months old which has tender meat and can be boiled or fried. (Yes, I know that sounds inhumane. If you eat chicken, try not to think about how the meat got from the farm to your plate.) The use of "spring chicken" to refer to a young person dates from 1879. The term is usually used in the negative sense, e.g., "That woman is no spring chicken."

"Many an emailer" is AOLER. Many crosswords include ALER or NLER, referring to a baseball player in the American League or National League, but this is the first time I've seen AOLER in a puzzle -- and I've never seen or heard any of those three words anywhere except in crosswords. AOL was formerly America Online. Officially, the letters AOL no longer stand for anything, just as the letters KFC (formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken) officially no longer stand for anything. The word "email," which means "electronic mail," dates from 1982 and was originally spelled "e-mail" but now is more commonly spelled without the hyphen.

"Pet problem" is PEEVE. A "pet peeve" is a minor annoyance which bothers a particular person more than it bothers other people. Among my own pet peeves are people who loudly talk on a cell phone in public, people who say "for you and I" instead of the grammatically correct "for you and me," and people who insist on writing LOL after comments that are not even the slightest bit amusing. The Get Amused humor website has a seven-page list of pet peeves:

http://www.getannoyed.com

There are many nice things about having a pet peeve. You don't have to feed it or have it spayed or neutered or take it to the veterinarian or the groomer -- and you can have as many as you want. They make no noise and the neighbors will never complain.
18
General Support / Re: Post a Puzzle
« Last post by ahimsa on April 05, 2017, 09:25:33 AM »
I used to be able to download attached puzzles (.PUZ files) but I just tried it today and it didn't work.

I'm not sure what's going on.

Edit: I meant to add that I also tried to upload a PUZ file and that didn't work, either.
19
General Discussion / Re: Crossword Tracker
« Last post by Pangram~Man on April 03, 2017, 10:37:51 PM »
Thanks for the info & the links.

Great resource for constructors!

Keep up the good work, Mr. Gales!
20
General Discussion / Re: Crossword Tracker
« Last post by Thomps2525 on April 03, 2017, 08:12:06 PM »
The Crossword Tracker website is run by a company called Crossword Tracker. Yes, really. It's a Florida limited liability company based in Seattle and registered in 2013 to Jonathan D. Gales.

https://visulate.com/rental/visulate_search.php?CORP_ID=L13000173846

https://www.corporationwiki.com/p/2eh9ec/jonathan-gales

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