A year or so after beginning my setting career with The Times I was approached to vet a puzzle by a novice setter who wanted to improve his technique. Such requests have been rare but there has been a flurry of them over the past couple of months.
It is extremely flattering to receive these requests, and fulfilling them has been hugely enjoyable – they are always welcome – but, of course, being a full-time setter means I have to squeeze these projects into increasingly scarce non-setting hours. Well, no, let’s be more precise; they take up time I should really be using for setting.
Not that I object – far from it. I repeat that I gain huge pleasure from offering whatever help I can, and it’s thrilling to know that budding setters might turn to me for advice.
I want to carry on doing it, but the reality is that I can’t afford to be flooded with requests that will take me away from what meagre spondulix cryptic crossword setting gives me. So I’m going to offer this service for a flat fee of £50 per 15×15 standard cryptic puzzle. The work will usually take about a day, so it’s a very reasonable rate.
What will you get for your money? You’ll get a full evaluation of every clue, pinpointing both good and bad and suggesting ways of improvement if changes are needed. The comments will be designed to reinforce both Ximenean and Libertarian clue-writing rules and will show you some of the tricks setters use to get round awkward answers, wordplay indicators, syntax and grammar etc.
I should point out immediately that it won’t be possible for this fee to include re-submissions of puzzles for repeated evaluation – it will be necessary to charge a fee again (probably reduced – say, £25-ish).
Payment methods are admittedly sketchy for the moment, but if you can do it via PayPal that’s fine by me. Please email me for further details.