In a good cryptic clue, the surface is a standalone piece of prose with a real-world/relatable meaning. But you will occasionally come across this exception: a surface containing blank(s), which need to be filled based on the clue's answer to become meaningful.
A fill-in-the-blanks (FITB) clue prompts the solver to supply the missing chunk that, when inserted into the blank(s), makes its surface sense complete. The missing chunk is generally indicated with a series of underscores.
FT 13284 (Viking): Solemn? Yes, if rendered ____ (9) MONEYLESS
The clue works on the anagram (rendering) of (SOLEMN YES)*.
One would understandably be solemn if rendered moneyless, as the surface says when the answer is plugged into the blank.
Sometimes it isn't directly the clue's answer that completes the surface, but wordplay associated with it.
Guardian 24043 (Paul): Successful author's ____ in it, you might say! (7) ROWLING
The answer is the successful author Rowling, but the word that goes into the blank is its homophone (indicated by 'you might say') 'rolling'.
A few fill-in-the-blank clues for you to relish.
THC 11176 (xChequer): Seek charity at home because that's where it should _____? (5)
[From Tim Moorey's book] If one cold toe is numb, two must be ____ (4,6)
TIB16 (Diogenes): Naughtily ogle at her when model's caught in the ____ ? (10)
Guardian 25488 (Araucaria): "Bedtime: that's all ____" — no love this time (9) F________
Guardian 26051 (Paul): Though analogue isn't a poisoner ___ ? (9) D________
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