Forum > General Discussion

How do you guys come up with good crossword clues?

(1/2) > >>

ryanspuzzles:
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?

4wd:
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.

Glenn9999:

--- Quote from: ryanspuzzles on April 10, 2017, 05:51:28 PM ---But more often than not, the set of clues I come up with is pretty bland.

--- End quote ---

What do you mean by "pretty bland"?


--- Quote from: ryanspuzzles on April 10, 2017, 05:51:28 PM ---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?

--- End quote ---

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.

ryanspuzzles:
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"
--- End quote ---

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"?
--- End quote ---

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.

4wd:

--- Quote from: 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.

--- End quote ---

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.

Navigation

[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version