How to Write a Cryptic Crossword


Tough one.

I’d start thinking like a setter, if I were you.

For example, if I were you, immediately, as I write, suggests a possible letter replacement. BIG would be BUG, if I were you.

Do you really want to be thinking like this? If so, read on, and take notes. If not, read on, and thank your lucky stars you haven’t got the big… I mean, bug.

Dinner parties will never be the same. Even as I pen the word ‘parties’ I think ‘anagram of ‘traipse’. Or of ‘pirates’. Or of ‘piaster/piastre’ (Pause) – I think there are others.

Even the word ‘pause’ leads me to a homophone of ‘paws’.

Which is ‘swap’ backwards.

That was step one: think like a crossword setter. See patterns (anagram of ‘transept’) in everything.

Step two: Win the lottery. Pick the correct six numbers. I’d go for 1, 8, 15, 16, 28 and 34, but I’ve been wrong before. You will need at least 5 balls and the bonus ball in order to be able to put the time aside to practise crossword setting.

Step three: lock yourself in a cupboard for a year, with a pen, a pad, and basic nutrients. Start writing clues. A tip would be, when you think you’re good, you’re probably still average. Keep practising until you consider yourself to be the best in the world. Balance your thoughts with your ego, and be realistic.

Step four: get a proper job. Really, I would.

Best wishes,

John (Paul)




3 responses to “How to Write a Cryptic Crossword

  1. Dave Warder (Donk)

    For ‘traipse’, if you were feeling a bit cheeky…

    Tramp buggered a priest (7)

  2. How many words (that you have good clues for) do you generally have prior to selecting and then completing the grid?

  3. Hi Fearsome. Thanks for your question. Probably none is the answer. I have words or phrases (perhaps five?) that I think will make for fun clues. Then I work from there.

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