Mentorship and Community
Most professional constructors use one of the following software options. Each has its advantages.
A handful of other free web-based options exist. It’s worth looking into the pros and cons of each one before deciding on one to stick with.
Demos and guides
These demos can help you decide which features are important to you, but each of them also covers some basic points of construction that can be applied to any other program.
Wordlists and other tools
Wordlists are an important tool in making your puzzles true to your voice and interest. Each of the various wordlists have different pros.
A variety of tools exist for assistance in finding words and wordplay that fit your theme or puzzle.
- ⭐Wordlisted from Adam Aaronson is a do-it-all tool. It stands alone in that it requires zero coding experience, offers a wide variety of searching tools, and has options to search a user’s own wordlist.
- OneLook calls itself “a search engine for English words and phrases.” While it cannot search a user’s personal wordlist, it does have functions that Wordlisted does not, such as finding concepts and related words.
- Rhyme Zone has basic dictionary and thesaurus modes, but it is also especially useful for farming for phrases that contain given words, a really good starting point for creating “question mark” clues.
- Qat is a little more technical, but has more robust searching mechanisms and a handy user guide.
- Crossword Nexus has some unique tools for finding things like double occupancy clues, writing clues with a collaborator, and clues pulled from “The Onion” headlines. There are also a ton of tools for creating acrostics and other variety puzzle types.
- XWordInfo has a ton of NYT-specific data on grids, entries, clues, constructors, and more.
- Cruciverb, while a little outdated now, is a good collection of all kinds of info but one resource that still holds true is this extensive list of theme types.
- Clue Databases – Ginsberg is quite comprehensive (and it integrates with CrossFire seamlessly) but stopped getting updates mid-2021. We now recommend using Saul Pwanson’s database which is still getting regular updates.
- Diary of a Crossword Fiend and Crossword Tracker are both helpful when trying to determine if a puzzle idea you’re working on has been published recently. Searching for your revealer or theme entries usually works.
Submitting for publication
There are a handful of puzzle > pdf converters out there, but Nam Jin Yoon’s NYT Submission Editor is the best. If you’re submitting to The New York Times, this is a must for producing the format required.
Matthew Stock’s spreadsheet of publisher specs is a collection of the specs and guidelines for each publication. It is very common for a puzzle to get rejected by one outlet but be accepted elsewhere. It is also very common to collect a pile of rejections when submitting to some of the largest outlets first.
Most authors who choose to start a puzzle blog use blogger or another free service. Most puzzle blogs use ⭐Amuse Labs to host and embed their puzzle content. Crossword Nexus is a great option too, especially for certain tricky mechanics that .puz files cannot handle. Crosshare is another option.
Blogs and Review Sites
Having a look around some of the review sites can help you get a sense of the kinds of themes and fill likely to be found (and published) at various venues. Tread lightly; commenters are not always kind.
- ⭐Diary of a Crossword Fiend
- Sally’s Take on the USA Today Crossword
- Rex Parker
- L.A. Times Crossword Corner
Are we missing something? Let us know!