AVCX Cryptic Submissions

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 cryptic@avxwords.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.