This web site is dedicated to my favorite specialty crossword puzzle, the double crostic. The words you enter horizontally are referenced not, as in crossword puzzles, to other words you enter vertically, but to a quotation instead. So in addition to the pleasure of solving the puzzle, you get a literary experience; a passage which will delight you with its beauty, humor, or resounding truth. In addition, the answer words constitute an acrostic of the author's name and title of the work: if you read vertically down the first answer column, you will find out who wrote the quote originally, and where. For example, if I used a quote from this document, the first letters of my answers might be "SUEGLEASONINSTRUCTIONS".
The clues may be difficult or ambiguous, and you may only be able to answer a few at first. However, next you can attack the quote directly as in pencil-and-paper HANGMAN or the tv game, WHEEL OF FORTUNE. You are using cryptographic skills as well as vocabulary and general knowledge.
Warning: Double crostic puzzles vary in difficulty and may take even an experienced solver from 10 minutes to many hours. Some puzzles require several hours' work over several sessions to solve, unless you use hints or reference works. In puzzles with answers on this web site, you may type a question mark into a square to see what belongs there, speeding up the solution process at will. Hints are not available for current competitive puzzles.
Beginners think they need the answers to all the clues. Experts, however, may not need to answer any of the clues, but be able to derive the quote directly based on the pattern. If I see - -- --- in the quote, I would fill in "I do not" with no other information: a pure leap-of-faith type guess. It is very easy to remove incorrect guesses later - just blank them out by hitting the space bar. Usually, to be successful with a puzzle, you will need to answer about half a dozen clues. So use reference works, online or otherwise, if necessary.
In the second stage, work with letters in the quote to guess words in the quote, based on your knowledge of word and sentence structure. Alternatively, you may find that some of the answers you guessed give you unlikely combinations in the quote - -kj-, or ----q. You might want to blank out the answer responsible.
Another approach to learning is to work a puzzle with answers, and enter "?" as needed for hints.