You want your sense of fun to emerge, but in a tidy package. Go for streamlined elegance in both wording and concept. You are telling a little story, in some ways, but try to stick to essential elements. Extraneous ideas can work against clarity and brevity. Brevity is not only kind to the solver but to the editor as well, with line length and spacing at issue in both print and electronic formats.
Clue: Virtual coupon, briefly
Now we start free associating: What kind of puzzle? How about a crossword puzzle? Is it a Sudoku or KenKen puzzle? What about something puzzling in general? What are some good synonyms for puzzle? This is when I open up a new browser window at Thesaurus. One digression here: You see how we are ending our clues in question marks?
If the clue was a straightforward, factual clue, it would not get a question mark. But circling back to one of the earlier ideas, we can try [Song about a crossword?
How about [Song for a crossword enthusiast? No way to know until we keep going. Does [Song for a professor? Notice that Robyn refrained from any reference to a jigsaw puzzle, and with CALL NUMBER I steered clear of anything to do with the Dewey decimal system, because you want to allow the original library meaning — also known as the base phrase — to speak for itself without alluding to it.
A quick check through Dictionary. All four clues are amusing, have parallel structure and stay true to the theme. Theme entries done. Now for the remaining puzzle fill. Earlier we decided the theme was Tuesday material, but an editor could eventually see it slightly differently — say, as either a Monday or a Wednesday. I edit the weekly puzzle for The Chronicle of Higher Education, which aims for fairly consistent midweek difficulty each time, not a daily progression. Even so, in my experience, a clue author afraid of not hitting the imagined target is better off going slightly harder rather than slightly easier.
If editors need to make clues gentler, they can often keep the essence of your original suggestion but add a hint. On the other hand, the New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz feels that every puzzle has a natural level of difficulty, based on its theme and vocabulary. He believes the constructor should figure out what the difficulty level is or ask the editor for guidance and write clues accordingly.
Virtual coupon, briefly Crossword Clue
Which brings us to another important point: Crossword editors change clues. They change a lot of them. Sometimes they edit them to streamline the difficulty level across the entire puzzle, as Brad describes above. Or clues get changed because the editorial team came up with something better. The fun wordplay makes that a far better clue. Remember, editors will notice you — and love you — if you are clearly setting a high bar for your clues. Just as a reminder, there are other software packages that constructors use to build crossword puzzles, like Crossword Compiler for Windows , but I use Crossfire because I work on a Mac.
As you can see, there are two main sections, the grid on the left and the entry list on the right. The one shown here is supplied by the puzzle constructor Matt Ginsberg. Matt is also the artificial intelligence expert behind Dr. Fill , the crossword solving computer that frequently — and to the endless frustration of us human solvers — finishes American Crossword Puzzle Tournament puzzles in 10 seconds or less. Every few months Matt updates his database of clues and offers them to the puzzle community, all for the low, low price of free.
Thank you, Matt! The clues come from a variety of outlets and publications — not just The New York Times. Puzzle makers debate whether using clues from these databases amounts to plagiarism. So use the databases only as a springboard. This is your creation.
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Go in new directions, or put your own spin on something clever that was used two years ago. Editors will relish and respect a unique voice and try to preserve its flavor. You may find when the puzzle is published that some of your favorites have been discarded or retooled into a more conventional mold.
Any number of craftsmanship constraints may be at work. Cluing expertise is about more than just getting the difficulty right and brandishing puns.
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One stylistic side note, before we continue: We prefer to avoid quotation marks as they can be confusing; quotation marks are often used within clues themselves — in titles, or when indicating a spoken phrase. We used brackets earlier when discussing the clues for the theme entries and will continue using them for the fill clues. Also, to keep this article from becoming longer than the O. Instead, we will highlight ones that lend themselves to discussing rules and tips for good clue construction. The full clue list is at the end.
Before we really dive into the cluing, there are some things that all constructors need to know. They are helpful for solvers, too, because knowing these rules may help you get your answers right. Singular entries get singular clues, noun entries get noun clues and plural entries get plural clues. Sometimes entries can act as more than one part of speech. Trump National Doral Miami is a Miami resort offering elegant accommodations, championship golf, spa services, and dining options.
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