So you want to be a setter

Good for you.

I've read a number of other people's guides to setting, and about the only bit that's common to all of them is "Follow the rules". Like, duh.

What nearly all of them basically amount to is how that particular setter goes about it. Since you're not them, it's pot luck as to whether their methods will suit you.

I therefore offer the fairly useless advice that what you should do to get started is solve half a million clues, because that's what I did (and it took me 40 years). I read XATC a long time ago and have glanced at it occasionally since, but I've learned just about all I know about clue construction by osmosis. Having learned how clues are constructed, you then buy Crossword Compiler or Sympathy and use their grid libraries and their other capabilities to fill a grid in, and then you write the clues for the words in the grid. Then you find yourself a couple of people who are capable of solving your effort and of telling you coherently why some of the clues don't actually work.

And then you set puzzles. And you set some more. And then you set some more.

If you've selected your test solvers well and you're any good, they will at some point tell the odd editor that you're worth having a look at, and then you write to the editors and they publish your puzzles. And that's it.

Oh, and you'll find life a lot easier if you make a conscious effort not to put in entries which commit you to later having to find a word ending in U, because the words that end in U are mostly horrible to clue.

I am not really in the business of teaching other people. I'd rather set my own puzzle than struggle with someone else's half-baked thing and I have a full-time job fiddling with databases. So I don't want to have a look at your puzzle unless I've met you in person and have offered to do so. Sorry to be brusque and all that, but there are other people who are happier to help.