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How do you guys come up with good crossword clues?

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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 for a free weekly international cryptic with clue help and worked solutions


--- Quote from: ryanspuzzles on April 11, 2017, 04:28:17 PM ---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.

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--- Quote from: ryanspuzzles on April 11, 2017, 04:28:17 PM ---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

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It won't be too hard if you're keeping it around the Tuesday level.  Remember that you can always change context on a piece of fill.  You can go with some dictionary part in some way, but you can apply it to culture of various kinds too.  For instance, if you look up a word and figure out it's in a popular song or movie title, you can always pop it in as a fill in the blank or something related and jazz up the grid that way.  For instance, to use an example from today's publications, you could code ATLANTA as [Georgia capital] or [Golden Globe-winning Donald Glover series].   The first is about a Mon/Tue level, the other one is late-week stuff.  Of course, you wouldn't want to do that on a word that by itself is hard, but it's a way to change up things and more or less is what Stickler is suggesting.

Fantastic advice everyone. Thank you.


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