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Thread: Writing an aar-A guide

  1. #1
    Strategos Autokrator Member Vasiliyi's Avatar
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    Default Writing an aar-A guide

    Writing an AAR- A guide.
    Intro
    Hello everyone, I am Vasiliyi and some of you may know me while others not.
    I have noticed over my time in the .org that many attempts were made to write
    an aar. Although there were attempt were wholehearted and could have been
    great stories, they eventually died. Whether it be to ctd or something esle, we
    loose to many aars.

    I think that there is some confusion as to "how" to write an aar. I know that
    I was quite confused before I started writing my own. In this short guide, ill
    discuss the ways to write an aar, where and how to post screenshots, slightly
    edditing them, and creating your own "personal" aar.

    First off Id like to say that really anyone can write an aar, but writing one
    demands much time and preparation. Yes, you will have to spend many hours
    writing a good aar. But the good thing about it that you don't have to all at
    once. Don't think that the readers demand you to post every day. I think if
    you did that, people wouldnt be able to keep up with it and just give up.

    Second, remember RL is way more important than an aar. Unless you like to
    skip school or work a lot anyways, I dont suggest doing it.

    Grammar

    Third, Grammer and proper sentence structure is very appreciated. Owen Glyndwr
    created a very nice and comprehensive guide to grammer. Read it.

    http://forums.totalwar.org/vb/showthread.php?t=112596

    In addition to grammer and sentence structure, I once read a thread where
    someone mentioned using the "Enter" button generously. Obviously, if you
    paragraphs are long and thick, they can be hard to read and turn off the
    reader. Try to keep them long enough to be a paragraph, but, do use the
    "Enter" button generously.

    Screen shots

    Now, everyone likes to read an aar with some really cool screenshots. First off,
    taking screenshots takes a little while to get used to, but you will get there.
    First off, if you do not have the app to create screenshots, you can download
    Fraps. Fraps is free, although there is a payed version . Here is the link for the
    download. http://www.fraps.com/download.php

    Well, when you do get fraps installed, go to the screenshots tab and set
    up the key of you choice to take screen shots. I use the "Print scr" button.
    Next, go to your documents and create a folder which you can call "Screenshots".
    Go back to the screenshots tab in Fraps and change the folder to the one you
    created. This will make all your screenshots go to that folder, which is convienent.

    When you plan on taking a screen shot, you should, turn off the banners and
    those ugly green arrow markers. This will make the screen shot to look more
    real and pleasing to the eye. Next, you should always take at least 2 screen
    shots. Who knows, maybe you wont like the first one. To be honost, I usually
    take 5 or 6, sometimes more.

    When you are done taking screenshots, you should go to your screenshots
    folder and look at the screenshots. Then decide whichones you plan on using.
    Then, you should open them up in the standard paint program that all (i think)
    computers have. Crop it so that doesn't show anything except the actual screen
    you want to show. That is, get rid of the Units and the map and the battle
    commands. This makes the screenshots look a lot better.

    Here is an example. An unedited screenshot:

    The same image after its been cropped, notice how much better it looks.


    If you are good at editting, or wish to tinker with it, feel free to download a
    program called Gimp.
    http://www.gimp.org/downloads/
    Its essentially like photoshop, except free. Now, before you have Cropped your
    photos, you should create another folder and call it "WIP" or work in progress.
    Essentially its for the screen shots you are going to upload, because looking for
    them later is a pain.

    Now, to upload screen shots, you need to create an online account to host your
    images. I use www.Imageshack.com Its free,
    once again and fairly easy to use. Now, after you have uploaded your images, create
    another folder for your finished aar screen shots. Move the screen shots that are
    already cropped and uploaded into the finished one. You really don't have to keep
    the screen shots at all, but I do, for nostalgia.

    Now that you have all your screenies are on imageshack or whatever hosting site
    your using, your going to need to post them in your thread. To do this, first go to
    your hosting site and find the correct line to copy for "forums" Its easily visible if
    you use Imageshack and click on the "I" that's next to each photo. Now, uncheck
    include details and what you have is a screen shot ready to be used.

    I understand this might sound a bit confusing, but you'll get into the swing of it after
    a couple posts. Trust me, im not the most computer savvy person myself, and I got it.

    Content and Format

    Now, on the actual content of the aar, that is up to you. How detailed do you want
    it to be? Do you want it to be a story with characters and a plot line? Or maybe you
    just want to report what is going on in your aar. The choice is up to you. But do, try
    to make your aar a bit personal. There are many ways to do this. Here are some ways.

    Create a character who is a merchant, soldier, citizen, king, or whatever you
    please. Heck, may 5 or 10 characters. Give them personalities and try to paint
    a picture for the reader. Dont make them all heros or famed warriors. Make
    some of them cowards or worry worms or even just crazy!

    Also, you do not need to post EVERYTHING that happens in your campaign,
    infact, please don't. Post important things, things that are going on. Earlier on
    in your campaign, you can post screenies of the buildings that have been
    finished, but later on, its not as important, if at all.

    There are many different formats for writing an aar. Find your own format.
    Or copy one you like, (be sure you ask permission before hand, just in case).
    There are even "Video" aars, although i think they are all short lived because
    of the sheer amount of work you have to put into them.

    Formats that I can think of:
    Story format:You have a Characters with feelings and personalities.
    Your story should have a plot along with plot twists (to keep things interesting).
    Historical Format: weather it be like a history book or through
    the eyes of a character, it doesnt matter doesn't matter.
    Ahistorical Format: Your story does not follow history at
    all, but instead follows its own "History"
    Unserious Format: Well, like the format says, its not
    serious, yet its still very interesting and a fun read.

    Other tips

    On cheating. Well, I can say that in order for a good story to prevail, On may cheat.
    I must admit I cheat in my aar, even though I look down upon in any other campaign.
    Its needed. Install the force diplomacy mod which can be found in the Unofficial
    modding projects section. Its good, I don't use it, but I imagine it being very good.

    Also id like to remind you all to make sure you save your campaign at every point you feel needed.
    I save my campaign at every update I do. That way its easy to go back to anything if needed.
    I would HIGHLY recommend it, as ctd's and bugs happen.

    Conclusion

    What else can I say? Im not sure. Just remember that its your aar,
    and the point of writing it is to express your creative self, and to woo
    us readers of course. If anyone has anything at all to add to this guide,
    feel free to.


    Disclaimer: Owen told me that I was allowed to post a link to his Guide,
    but asked me to say that his Grammar guide is incomplete.

    I also want to give a really big thank you to all the AAR writers out
    there. They are magnificent stories and I read every one of them in the
    EB AAR sections. Keep it up guys (and gals).
    One last thing, I do not proclaim myself to be an expert writer,
    as you can see with all my spelling errors, nor do I say that my
    aar is truly awesome either, Im just posting this guide for all those who need help.

    Also read the other things people have posted, as I could not remember everything.
    Last edited by Vasiliyi; 05-21-2009 at 03:09.

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  2. #2
    Devout worshipper of Bilious Member miotas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing an aar-A guide

    Nice guide.

    I would also like to add that in the same way that you don't need to say everything that happened, quite often it is necessary for the story to include things that didn't happen.

    Remember, the readers don't see what is on your screen, just what you put on theirs, so feel free to take a few liberties with your writing.

    EDIT - That formatting style is quite useful isn't vasiliyi.
    Last edited by miotas; 05-19-2009 at 06:44.

    - Four Horsemen of the Presence

  3. #3
    Strategos Autokrator Member Vasiliyi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing an aar-A guide

    It is, I forgot to mention what you had said myself. I think its a pretty good beginners guide for anyone who plans on writing one.

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  4. #4
    Xsaçapāvan é Skudra Member Atraphoenix's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing an aar-A guide

    Good guide, nice job mate
    After my modifications finished I will write one.



    My Submods for EB
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    My AAR/Guides How to assault cities with Horse Archers? RISE OF ARSACIDS! (A Pahlava AAR) - finished
    History is written by the victor." Winston Churchill

  5. #5
    Symbasileus ton Rhomaioktonon Member Maion Maroneios's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing an aar-A guide

    Excellent guide. A balloon for you:

    Maion
    ~Maion

  6. #6
    Chuffed to be a Member Juvenal's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing an aar-A guide

    I think it is important to take steps to make your AAR reader-friendly, after all you must want people to read it otherwise you wouldn't have posted it here.

    The forum is more like a magazine than a novel, so an AAR needs short paragraphs and illustrations to maintain reader attention.

    I crop my pictures and generally give them captions to help tie them to the text. I also try to keep the direction of view consistent in order to make it easier for the reader to understand the shape of the battle.

    I know that many writers here don't have English as their first language, but it is always worth running the spell checker and doing some proof-reading. In the end you are (I presume) trying to make the reader feel what you felt yourself when you were writing, so the text needs close review to ensure it is sending the right message.

  7. #7
    Member Member Lysimachos's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing an aar-A guide

    Nice effort, Vasiliyi! Perhaps you could subdivide the guide using numbers, to help with a quick overview.
    Here's a contribution:

    Every rule has an exception, you just need a good reason to deviate.
    Read about glory and decline of the Seleucid Empire... (EB 1.1 AAR)

    from Satalexton from I of the Storm from Vasiliyi

  8. #8
    Strategos Autokrator Member Vasiliyi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing an aar-A guide

    Did so already Lysimachos, hope it looks better.

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  9. #9
    Member Member the man with no name's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing an aar-A guide

    Thankyou very much dude. I have alays wanted to write an AAR but i just didn't know how. The other thing is that i almost never get time. Believe it or not i'm only in sixth grade (11 almost 12) and even then i try my best to get my work done but i scrape by getting A's and B's in skool. I barely have enough time to play except on the weekends and even then i have Boy Scouts and Baseball in my way (for example i have a camping trip for sat. - mon. on Memorial day weekend 2!) So i might be able to write 1 in the summer butit will probaly die at the starting of school. I love this guide and it will aide me alot so i say thank you with a (and yes i no Maion has alreadt given you 1.)
    My balloons:

    Quote Originally Posted by gamegeek2 View Post

    Steppe battles are very long, but the wars are short.

    Infantry battles aren't as long, but the wars are much longer.

    -gamegeek2
    Campaigns completed: Vanilla Julii

  10. #10
    Member Member Semper Ubi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing an aar-A guide

    I think the forum administrators can help promote AARs a little by removing the 3-post limit for images, so that new users can jump right in.

    Yeah, I mean, it's not that big a deal, but then, without it, I wouldn't be making this highly superfluous post.

  11. #11
    Arrogant Ashigaru Moderator Ludens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing an aar-A guide

    Quote Originally Posted by Semper Ubi View Post
    I think the forum administrators can help promote AARs a little by removing the 3-post limit for images, so that new users can jump right in.
    IIRC that limit is only for the first ten posts of an account. We've been getting a lot of spambots lately, and we're trying to deflect them by putting limits on the number of images and links a new member can post.

    If you're still having problems after you've made ten posts, you can ask Andres for help.
    Looking for a good read? Visit the Library!

  12. #12
    Member Member Semper Ubi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing an aar-A guide

    It's only three now, and I got past it. Thanks! Hehe, I didn't mean to cause a fuss, but I was wanting to post an image and couldn't think of anything else for my 3rd post.

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