Thanks for your interest in making cryptics for AVCX! Because cryptics are more complex both to create and evaluate than standard American crosswords, our process for evaluating potential constructors looks a bit different than the puzzle submissions you may be used to.
To give us a sense of you as a cryptic constructor, we ask that you send us five entries–words or phrases that might appear in a puzzle – with your clues for each entry.
- At least two of the five entries should be ones you’d like to feature in your AVCX puzzle (please indicate which ones in your submission).
- Your entries should vary in length; as fits our puzzle specifications, no entry should be shorter than 4 letters or longer than 15 letters.
- Use a different type of wordplay in each clue (e.g., do not submit two charades clues and three anagram clues), with the exception of mixed-wordplay clues (see below).
- For an explanation of clue types, see our solving guide.
- At least one clue should mix two or more types of wordplay. (The clue that uses multiple wordplay forms may duplicate a type of wordplay used in another of your clues.)
- An example from the great Nate Cardin: [Restructured dope cartel dismissing college weed vendor (3,6)] for POT DEALER combines an anagram (“Restructured dope cartel” = anagram of dope cartel) and a deletion (“dismissing college” = delete C, an abbreviation for “college”).
- Include an explanation for how each clue leads to the answer. This need not be complicated; for example, for the clue [Famous Greek screamed “Hi!” in confusion (10)], the answer and explanation [ARCHIMEDES (screamed “Hi” anagram)] is sufficient.
- Send your entries with clues and explanations to email@example.com, with “Clue submission” and your name in the subject line of the email.
Follow these guidelines when writing your clues:
- We maintain the AVCX's existing editorial bent toward puzzle content that is bias-challenging, progressive, timely, and highlighting of groups/cultures traditionally underrepresented in crosswords. As such, we recommend that you include at least one or two entries or cluing angles that you think wouldn’t be accepted anywhere else!
- For cryptics in particular, we recommend that you accomplish this, wherever possible, without demanding a lot of factual knowledge from the solver. Standard crosswords allow for more inclusion of deep-cut factual knowledge because they offer the solver more crossings to help them confirm a fact that is new to them. Examples of lively entries we’ve seen that fit the bill: LEATHER BAR, VIBRATOR, TRASH PANDAS, SIMONE BILES.
- Indirect anagrams are not allowed. That is, if your wordplay includes an anagram, the word or words to be anagrammed must be included directly in the clue; you may not instead clue synonyms of the anagrams.
- Your wordplay and definition should not have the same etymology.
- For example, it would not be allowed to clue SPACESHIP as [Areas with hip craft (9)], or SPACES + HIP, because the root of SPACE is the same in both SPACES and SPACESHIP.