New for 2013 … This year, in the centenary of the crossword, I’m running Masterclasses for aspiring setters.
Compiling puzzles is not the black art that it seems to be. You need to know some basic techniques, and you need some structure to the way you work. Those things can be learned, as long as you enjoy word games and have the type of mind that reads “Car Park” but pictures fish sailing a boat, a carp-ark.
These classes aim to provide a route into the arcane world of professional setting, combining essential information about compiling techniques, requirements for publication and the use of software with discussion of issues such as quality and fairness, developing a style and managing the creative process.
You can look forward to a stimulating day with a group of people representing a range of experience from relative newcomers to those who are nearly ready to have their work published. Each class will include individual and group exercises and conclude with an opportunity for you to present your own work in progress for constructive criticism and individual advice.
Whether you are just starting out as a compiler, trying to get your work published or simply wishing to develop a talent for your own satisfaction, this could be for you.
The cost for the whole day is £150, including lunch, drinks and snacks.
In addition to your place in the class itself, you’ll receive 200 pages of course material, written notes on your work (if you’re able to submit a puzzle of your own) and membership of an exclusive online community for news, support and more clueing challenges.
Please follow the e-mail link at the top of the page to book your place and for details of how to pay, or to join the waiting list for future classes.
Friends’ Meeting House
Saturday 8 March 2014
09:30 to 16:00
After a sell-out class in Brighton in June 2013, I’m running another at the same lovely venue in the Spring. Drop me a line now to make sure of your place.
Looking for ideas for Christmas?
If you’d like to buy your loved one a place on one of my Masterclasses, I’ll reserve a provisional slot for them, which they can change if they wish. I’ll also send you some material that you can print out and give to them as part of their present.
A Masterclass for the Midlands?
Would you like to see a class in Birmingham or Oxford? I’ve had a couple of enquiries, and if I get one or two more I’ll arrange a class, probably in early Summer 2014.
I’ll set up more classes wherever there are aspiring setters who’d like to come to them. If that describes you, please drop me a line, then let your friends know and put them in touch with me too, so that I know where to look.
Be My Agent
If you believe that your part of the country is crying out for a Masterclass, or if you’re involved in organising a series of events such as a festival that could include a Masterclass as part of its programme, why not be my agent? There’s very little work involved, so do get in touch and we can talk about the details.
Names and aims
Use of software
Why do people do crosswords?
A brief history of wordplay
The first crosswords
The British conversion
Why Britain and not the US?
Present and future
Quality, fairness and difficulty
Ximenean “rules” and Libertarians
Annotation  clue-oriented
Wordplay types: characteristics,
usefulness, indicators and
Annotation  solution-oriented
&Lits and Semi&Lits
Exercises and clueing surgery
American, British and other types
Symmetry and fairness
Creating a grid from scratch:
patterns, blocks and traditional
Choosing and filling a library grid Maximising theme usage
Why set crosswords with themes?
Critical and incidental themes
Types of theme
Difficulty and satisfaction
How Boatman themes work
Density and breadth of theme
The creative process
Ten steps: start to publication
The making of a Boatman puzzle
What kind of person makes a
Developing a style
Is compiling an art or a craft?
What is creativity?
What does inspiration feel like?
Setting as a profession
How to choose a pseudonym
The mechanics of submitting
The role of the editor
A long-term plan
Learning to evaluate your work
The relationship between setter
Seeing a puzzle from the solver’s
point of view
Self-criticism and persistence
Will you be rich and famous?
Books, websites & blogs, Twitter
names, 1 Across and games
Constructive criticism and
Share an example of a completed
puzzle, a work in progress or
an idea for a theme
Suggestions for follow-up
© Copyright Ashley Knowles 2011-2013 | all rights reserved | colour design by Bernadina Lloyd www.bernadinalloyd.co.uk
From students at the first two Crossword Masterclasses
A very enjoyable and inspiring day
Excellent day, loads of useful information
Great day ... such a complete course
Fab day … exactly what I was hoping for
Good to meet people who are trying to learn to play the same instrument and also get an insight into a maestro's approach
Absolutely brilliant … I really feel ready to step up a level now
I'm really happy I signed up for this. I definitely feel motivated to keep going on my crossword setting quest
Value for money