The AAR Criteria
By request and by volunteering, I have decided to write my "AAR Criteria". Yet, before I do so, I would like to declare that I am no official nor am I an expert, yet, I am, from what others have told me, a good reviewer of AARs and I am a constant reader of AARs, I have read well over a hundred AARs and I know what (my) criteria are.
Most AARs today have a very strong illness, either too little text and too many pictures or too little pictures and too much text, both of these illnesses have unwanted results; The readers who much prefer 'action' in their AAR, more fighting and less talking, would skip the AARs without pictures and the others, who prefer plot over 'action', would much rather read the ones with more text. This forces most AAR readers and writers to find a very delicate balance between the two and with that offer little diversity at times.
For me, the basic guidelines of an AAR should be proper grammar, a proper plot and some action, meaning that I would much rather to read an interesting plot than blankly stare at pictures of the game, instead of simply right clicking on its icon and playing it myself.
The pros of an AAR with a plot is that it allows your imagination to flow and yourself to 'lie' a bit, as my good friend once said in response to one of my oldest AARs. What I mean by this is that you can, instead of sticking directly to gaming events, simply start inventing conversations between your characters, allow your imagination to take over battles as you inflate the deeds of your soldiers in combat just a tad bit, instead of simply sticking to the facts and... Basically, reporting after your action.
The definition of the AAR is actually an "After Action Report", meaning you simply tell the story of what you have done, meaning that the AARs with more pictures and less text usually live up to this standard, yet, those with less pictures and more text would much better be counted as stories and tales instead of AARs, and there is nothing wrong with either of those.
However, instead of picking one of these, most players would much rather find the delicate balance between the two, and oftenly (Sadly), fail, causing in lack of interest from both sides of the readers, both those who much rather a plot and those who much rather action, thus creating dead AARs by the dozens.
I urge all AAR readers out there to not judge an AAR just by briefly looking at it, read it, look at the pictures, at least read two updates before deciding your opinion, as I myself were surprised by an or two before which had very little text and an immense amount of pictures, however, was one of the funniest AARs I have ever read, or, no pictures and all text, which turned out to be one of the best stories I have ever read. This is why I urge you, do not judge a book by its cover.
I also urge all AAR writers, do not fear your style! Write what you feel is right and what you want to write, listening to popular demand and going against what you want to do/write will oftenly cause in you losing interest in your AAR and abandoning it, or a complete lack of interest by others as you do not seem to really be investing in said AAR.
In addition, I will add that humorous AARs are probably the best and most successful AARs, however, there is also a delicate balance there between funny and downright apalling, most humorous AARs fail to find this balance and tend to fail, however, this doesn't mean you should give up! The more subtle the humor, the funnier the AAR will be, the more blunt and obvious the humor, the less successful the AAR will be, keep that in mind when writing your own.
I will say this, as my conclusion and final words: Writers - Do not give up and do not change your style, if the public demands you do, the public doesn't deserve to read your style. Readers - Be a bit more patient, read the AAR, don't just look at it and decide randomly if it's good or not, this will discourage all the writers and eventually you will see the downfall of the AAR community alltogether if you do that.
Those were my two cents of wisdom... Heed or disregard this, this is your choice indeed, however, I speak from experience, experience you just might find useful.