Most of the treasure hunters who frequented this blog in the past would know by now that I am an advocate of smooth surface reading in cryptic clues. And I still maintain that a cryptic clue is more elegant when the surface reading, i.e. the literal "storyline" of the sentence(s) is constructed with impeccable grammar and different from the true intention of the setter. The literal meaning of the surface reading is also useful to lead the solver as far away from the scent of the true intention of the clue.
Q18) Say you're sorry that face is its beginning.
In the Novice Hunt 2, I kept up my habit of carefully constructing smooth surface reading as much as I could. But the above question was the spoiler. In terms of surface reading, I dare say it is just awful! Apparently, there is no meaning to the "storyline". It's quite painful for me because I'm known to constantly criticize unimpressive surface reading in cryptic clues. Yet, in this particular case, I've constructed such a clue myself!
A strong treasure hunter who knew my objection to unimpressive surface reading was so affected that he sent me a text message during the hunt, saying, "Q18 no surface reading", and that absolutely put a smile on my face!
The obvious question: Why would someone like me construct such an awful cryptic clue?
And the common sense answer was, because I had no choice but to use those words in verbatim in exactly that order! Those words simply had to be exactly in that order because changing anything there would destroy the entire riddle and its solution!
Those words were taken from the lyrics of a very famous song by Taylor Swift, White Horse, from a very successful album entitled Fearless. And those few words are the beginning of that song.
It's been said that sometimes it pays to know the style of the Clerk-of-Course (CoC). According to the only team which solved this riddle, they were lost for a while. But then they suddenly remembered that the English and surface reading did not accord well with my style, and that made them think and investigate why. And because of that, they found the answer in the end.