The back story
I had the idea for this crossword a while back and am pleased to have finally pieced it together. With a somewhat limited range of well-known theme words to choose from, it was looking difficult to theme all the across answers of a full-size grid, so I went with another 11×11. By theming all across answers, I spare the solver the problem of distinguishing the themers from the standards. Although I could equally achieve this by flagging themed clues with an asterisk, there is something neat about theming the full cohort of across clues.
This approach did, of course, facilitate a quicker build. I found the grid a little harder to compile than I expected, but once complete I wrote the clues in one sitting of maybe a couple of hours. Miles quicker than usual! The task was made a little easier by the reasonably high number of short answers and the lack of themed wordplay, and not having to concern myself with definitions for the across answers was useful, but I think my speed is also a sign of progress in my clue writing skill.
The lack of definitions for across answers introduces a certain level of difficulty, but once the theme is spotted the solver has an additional piece of information to assist. There are some very simple themed answers, too, which should help in cracking it open early in the piece.
In most cases I feel the wordplay is pretty uncomplicated, with little in the way of unusual indicators or obscure synonyms. There is a single clue (4-down) requiring very specific local Australian knowledge – which even many locals will lack – but I think it’s nice to include local references, particularly cruciverbalist in-crowd stuff. In any case, it’s a short answer that’s well solvable from the cross letters and the definition.