The Simple Step-by-Step Guide for Crossword Construction

by Max Fragar
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Are you someone who loves solving crosswords? Do you read everything related to them?

Do you feel you are an enthusiast who loves solving them? Do you want to know about apps where you win money?

How about starting constructing online word puzzles all by yourself?

Don’t look that surprised, it is simple when you know how to construct a puzzle. 

Well, you may be an expert in solving word puzzle games, constructing them is a different process altogether.

All it requires is dedication, precision, innovativeness and smart work.

Matt Gaffney, a renowned crossword constructor has come up with simple techniques that will help in making you a pro at online crossword making.

Identify the theme

Most crossword lovers ask the constructors, which is the first step of creating a puzzle.

Have you successfully solved free online mind games all by yourself?

Does it start with looking for the answers or construction of clues?

NO. The first step is to think of a creative theme that you think will connect with the audience. It has to be interesting.

You can also come up with something that is trending.

Take one thing into consideration that your complete theme revolves around the theme that you have chosen.

There are themeless crosswords as well so it is completely your choice to make a theme based crossword or themeless crossword.

But puzzles with themes tend to interest the audience.

Allow your mind to come up with something innovative. Whatever theme you choose make sure it is something fresh. Every clue is relevant to the theme.

You can go to any topic related to current affairs, history, entertainment, etc. It depends on you completely.

Now is the time to move to the next step

Fitting-in the answers

As a crossword puzzle’s theme is something which is a unifying motif with the grid answers.

Especially the longest one. Starting from vaguely comprehensible to hellishly complex, there are different types of themes.   

Make a list of all the possible one-word TV shows.

You can take the help of Google and Wikipedia. Oh, you can also use IMDb.

After some time of list sourcing. You can shortlist and decide on anyone.

Three-letter shows like ALF or CSI (in Traffic Signs) are average but it would be great if you go for a cooler choice having four, five or six-letter words.

Tip: Make sure the phrase you chose is symmetrical so it becomes easy to offset within the grid.

Let’s use MENTAL FLOSS in the top left as the first answer to the grid.

But you have to take care that the 11-letter entry should have a mirror image.

Your theme looks like this:

  • MENT AL FLOSS hiding “ALF” (11 letters)
  • JOE L OSTEEN hiding Lost (10 letters)
  • ALABA MA SHAKERS thereby hiding “M*A*S*H” (13 letters)
  • S WING STATE hiding “Wings” (10 letters)
  • LI VE EPISODE hiding “Veep” (11 letters)

Do you agree that this is a decent set for the mind trick games? Now is the time to mix the recent old-school programming.

Do it in a way that an adult or elderly, anyone can easily relate.

You must be thinking that there was no six-letter word.

Although there were a few close calls: COMBAT MANEUVER.

But this one is not that popular (1,17,00,000 Google searches).

Black Square Placements

Next is Black square placements guided by some long-established rules.

Entries have to be a minimum of three letters long. Also, this time it is mandatory that the grid should have “180-degree rotational symmetry”. You can even get paid to play if you are working on real money games.

This clearly means that if you turn it upside down, the black square pattern should look similar.

Well, the maximum amount of word count the grids permits is 78.

With the aforementioned entries, the grid looks like the following:

Filling the grid

Here comes one of the most challenging parts of the process:

Filling the grid, not simply with fitting words but also with the ones that add a fun element in the crossword.

“AREA”, “ARIA”, “ONO” & “ERIE” are ideal words but all of them are used so often that it becomes difficult to write the original clue.

Thinking, what if the computer software can fill the grid for you. Well, yes it does.

There are many experts that still use paper and pencil to create an authentic grid but it takes a lot of time during the process.

When you have the technology, why not take advantage of it.

The process is semi-computerized. Once the crossword creation process gets completed, you will later realize that you will actually get a good final online crossword game.

Start from the center: Begin working from the center.

In the top puzzle game, this is considered as a common divide and rule strategy that leaves you with more blocked off edges in order to knock out later.

If you start working from the corners, there is a possibility that you will be unable to finish and reach the center which connects them all.

A center is a logical place because there are theme entries running via it. These constraints fill choices.

The peripheral section has one or two themes in the area making it smoother for you.

After some time, there is a satisfactory fill with five theme entries.

All of them have decent balance. HBO, OMG, GOLD’s GYM and KABUL, PARIS, LBJ.

It is your choice to use abbreviations like a DEO, ONT. Plus, there are a few words that are funny.

For example EASY NOW, CON JOB and STEELY/DAN. All this is balancing everything.

Making of clues

Let’s now make clues within the best-rated puzzle games. Start focusing on a mix of old and new with some misdirecting clues to keep solvers on notice.

Here are the favorites:

  • Word reversing “Seinfeld”. This is work REMARK
  • Felt something on the head. FEDORA

Verification of the crossword

Finally, now is the time to cross-check the complete grid. Check everything especially the ones you are confident about.

The last step is a quick test to ensure that nothing has been mixed.

When everything looks good, export the puzzle into a tidy e-file and send it to an editor of a good puzzle site.  

And it’s done!

If the crossword puzzle that you created is amazing, it will certainly get published in the newspaper or online.

The editor will get an idea that the puzzle will be liked by a broader range of audiences.

Follow all the aforementioned techniques one after the other and come up with something that will be entertaining.  

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