Please read these guidelines carefully before making a submission enquiry.
What can I submit?
What makes a good submission continued
Hoskins Crosswords is currently looking for submissions of 15*15 cryptic crosswords in the British style. Whilst themes and ninas are welcomed, please do not send grids of other sizes, barred grids, alphabeticals, concise/quick crosswords or puzzles whose content would only be publishable in Penthouse.
What standard of grid are you looking for?
Hoskins Crosswords wants your best stuff - however, that's not to say that it needs to be at the standard of the national papers. We are aware setters need to grow and not all efforts are likely to produce an Anax or Arachne.
What style are you looking for?
Hoskins Crosswords would like to publish puzzles with Xim-leaning clues. However, if you are a Lib setter then don’t be deterred from submitting, but do be prepared for rewrite requests or rejection if the site doesn’t go for it.
What makes a good submission?
i - A good Introduction:
First impressions are important, so make sure you read the submission guidelines and adhere to them. A professional approach helps and will stand you in good stead for future submissions to paying markets.
ii - Grid Format:
Hoskins Crosswords prefers grids with half-turn rotational symmetry; lights that have no less than 50% checking; and no more than a string of two unchecked cells (and no two unchecked cells at the beginning or end) in a light. However, there may be some leeway if the grid is something special.
iii - Range of Clues:
A good range of clue types will provide variation and make your grid a more enjoyable solve. Please keep to seven or fewer anagrams and no more than two hidden clues.
iv - Surfaces & Crosswordese:
Surfaces that make sense are important to Hoskins Crosswords – please try to make your surfaces smooth and make sense.
Crosswordese finds its way into all crosswords at some point - but please keep it to a minimum.
v - Padding:
Hoskins Crosswords likes the idea of a clue containing a definition, subsidiary indication of that definition, and nothing else (links aside). A word used in the surface of a clue should have a justifiable function in the cryptic reading of the clue and the same goes for EMs and QMs (though there is more latitude for punctuation).
However, if the clue is so stellar that you knock the socks off Hoskins Crosswords, then you may get away with padding - but Hoskins Crosswords must inform you that it's socks have not been knocked off since 1972.
vi - Doubly Duty:
Double duty is a no-no. Fodder in clues should, unless it is an &lit clue or a special clue type, only being doing one thing in the cryptic reading. Please do not use a word as both synonym and indicator, or definition and part of wordplay etc unless the clue is an &lit or a special type (and be aware Hoskins Crosswords may not go for special types).
vii - Indirect Anagrams:
Indirect anagrams (where the solver must find a synonym of a word and then anagram the synonym's letters) are, for Hoskins Crosswords, a no-no and should be avoided. Cross-grid anagrams (where another answer is the fodder) are an exception to this.
viii - Spelling and Grammar:
Correct spelling and grammar should apply to all clues (unless there is a good reason for it) - however, as you may have noted from the writing here - the occasional grammatical mistake may go unnoticed!
Xim-leaning cryptic grammar should also be adhered to, but I will be more relaxed about it than in my own puzzles as it’s a bastard to explain.
ix - Level of Toughness:
Solvable crosswords are what Hoskins Crosswords is looking for so you may want to err on the side of easy. Solvers like to solve, and an unsolvable guest puzzle is unlikely to be published here.
x - Clue Length:
Hoskins Crosswords prefers clues that are around or under 50 characters (including spaces) – however, longer clues are fine, but a grid laden with long ‘uns is less likely to be published here.
xi - Brand Names and Living People:
Brand names and living people are fine, but be aware that anything libellous is likely to result in a re-write request.
xii - Abbreviations:
Hoskins Crosswords will consider any abbreviation that can be found in Chambers (and some with common usage not listed there) – but obscure abbreviations may result in a rewrite request.
When abbreviations are used as part of an anagram, please only use them as single letters that have the same head letter as the letter they represent in the anagram fodder.
xiii - Accuracy:
Accurate synonyms and definitions are important - try the substitution test to see if one word may be used for another in a sentence to see if they work. That said, occasionally a def can be accurate without adhering to this test or you may add a QM or EM to indicate a certain degree of woolliness or that lateral thinking is required.
xiv - Part of Speech in Definition:
Hoskins Crosswords prefers the definition, or definition phrase, to match the part of speech of the answer. However, there may be some latitude on this dependent on the clue – but not much.
xv - Smut:
There is a fine line between a clue that is a little bit naughty and/or suggestive and downright obscenity. Clues that provoke an URGHH! are unlikely to be published in guest puzzles here.
xvi - Offensiveness:
Another fine line. Obviously, anything that is downright offensive should not be submitted, but Hoskins Crosswords is also aware that people are adults and intelligent comment or satire may be acceptable. If you think the clue is too much, it probably is ... submit potentially offensive clues with care.
xvii - Expletives:
Hoskins Crosswords is not opposed to a well-placed expletive - however, strong language may result in a rewrite request. Having said that, 30 years ago 'Bloody' was a rude word and is now not offensive at all, so there is some leeway. Having said that, pick your expletives with care and always err on the side of safety.
Xvii – Editing:
Hoskins crosswords will ask for rewrites to fix any clues that are judged dodgy or unsuitable. Occasionally, Hoskins Crosswords may offer suggestions or lightly edit clues, but on the whole the clues should and will be the setter's own work.
xix - Summary:
All of the above should provide you with a good indication of what a setter should be thinking about when preparing a grid for submission. However, Hoskins Crosswords may accept grids that break any or all of the guidelines in this section (apart from those listed in the ‘What can I submit section) and will try to offer some leeway for less experienced setters.
That said, if you're not sure that your grid ticks the boxes listed here, then it might be worth delaying submission until you produce one that does. A good place to go to learn how to write clues is DIY COW – if you join, make sure you get involved with the community and please donate what you can to help keep the site going.