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    Hello again,
    This is my second attempt, I bought the crossword compiler and have attached the crossword and the answers as seperate documents.
    I hope I’m better this time. I know that some of the words are a bit weird, I used the ones that the program gave me. If you want me to explain how I made the clues fit the answers please let me know.



    Mdean, you are very keen! It was only about 24 hours after I commented with advice that you uploaded this, so I am doubtful if you did the reading I suggested. If you read Alberich’s advice on grid construction, you will be aware this is a “difficult grid” of the type mostly used when there is a perimeter Nina involved. Since you just accepted a fill from Crossword Compiler, you might have done better to use a different gid that doesn’t have (so many) “sticky-out” ends: first and last letters are usually the most helpful.Generally, one doesn’t just take the fill produced by software because, as you say, it can involve some “weird words” and words difficult to clue elegantly, so one would usually play around a bit looking for alternative fits. This is easy to do with Crossword Compiler, you just delete the problematic word (crossing letters will remain) and press right-click with the cursor on one of the blanks to get a list of possibles. You may have to alter largish portions to get a satisfactory fill.

    It seems unlikely you had time to learn more about cluing, so I suspect your clues might not be good. Glancing at the puzzle, I can guess that (*** SPOILER ALERT ***) 20dn is STAR (“rats in retreat”), with a definition of “as they can only see in the dark”. This is not a definition of STAR: “they” is plural, while STAR is singular, and stars don’t “only see in the dark”, but are only seen in the dark. It is very common for people who start to try and write clues to think they can just vaguely allude to the word they want you to think of. That is not how it works. It’s in fact a very precise art, almost mathematical.

    I am not going to invest time in trying to solve your puzzle, but if you put up a document explaining your clues, I may take a little time to point out where you are going wrong (apologies in advance if I am completely wrong here), although you might find this disheartening and you would really be well advised to study your subject thoroughly before presenting another puzzle. Imagine that you are a person who has enjoyed some nice meals and feels they would like to create their own dishes. If you just go into the kitchen, even with excellent equipment, and try to produce something tasty you are more or less bound to fail: you need to learn about cooking, not just rely on have eaten nice things as a guide. Here, you are doing the equivalent of presenting to a group of connoisseurs of fine food what you have knocked together very quickly with little idea of what the culinary arts comprise. You should not be surprised if it is not well received.

    You may be interested to know that John Halpern, lead setter at the Guardian under the pseudonym Paul, spent about FIVE YEARS honing his first puzzle before tentatively sending it to his hero, the legendary late setter Araucaria. He talks about that here: https://crypticcrosswordplanet.wordpress.com/

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