Wolverine Studios Community Manager
I’ve been writing dynasties/after action reports (AARs) about a wide variety of games and even real life for well over a decade now. It was my first foray into writing seriously, and played a major role in my eventually becoming a professional writer with an MFA in Creative Writing.
As I was thinking this morning about new topics for the Wolverine Studios blog, I hit upon dynasty writing. It’s a subject that I often see questions about. How do I get started? How do I attract readers? What do you do when you get writer’s block? I’ll be answering all those questions and more in this series. As a writer who gets paid for their work, and as a former academic who taught writing and literature at the university level, I have a lot to say about this subject – too much to cover in a single post.
We’ll start off by talking about the most frequent errors that I see beginning writers make. Note: I’ll be focusing primarily on text sports sims, because that’s our product line here at Wolverine. But I may periodically make references to other genres for examples.
The Most Common Beginning Writer Mistakes
They ask people what they want to see
This might sound counterintuitive to you. After all, if you’re trying to attract an audience and build a readership, shouldn’t you do what they’re looking for? Well, no. Although writing for a specific audience and target is important for many types of writing, dynasty/AARs doesn’t fall into that category.
The reason why is because dynasties/AARs are a form of creative writing. The writing process involves you, your thoughts and observations, and your imagination – shaped by the events of the game. It’s also a long haul in most cases. So in order to write the best work possible, it needs to be something you want to do – something you’re personally invested and interested in. What happens when you do that is the excitement translates itself into the prose, and readers will naturally get hooked in.
Another reason to avoid crowdsourcing your dynasty/AAR: By not focusing on what you want to do, the probability of burnout skyrockets. Everything that you do in life – whether writing, playing video games, or work, eventually hits a level of grind and monotony. I’ll talk more about how to overcome this in a future post, but when you’re not writing for yourself, that plateau hits much more quickly.
Side note: This isn’t unique to dynasty/AAR writing. Frequently, I see people wanting to start YouTube or Twitch channels, dreaming of the day when they have a big subscriber base and rank in those advertising and sponsorship dollars. Their focus is on the long-term goal of money, so they start off asking what people want in hopes of building a base quickly. Unfortunately for them, the same rule applies – stream/produce what you love and are interested in, and then the audience will be more likely to follow.
They just post the scores/results
Now, it’s possible to create a dynasty/AAR that focuses heavily on just scores and stats dumps, but it can’t be the only thing. Even when you’re simply listing the results and stats, you need to add some analysis and/or description to draw the reader in.
When you just post the raw data with no discussion or reaction, what happens is that readers will simply skim very quickly. You might get a “Great game” or “Congratulations on the championship” following a notable result, but that’s it. After all, you don’t appear to be very involved in the dynasty, so why should the readers be engaged in interacting?
They get burnt out or bored quickly and abandon every project
There’s nothing inherently wrong with dropping a dynasty/AAR. We all do it – even me. For every work I’ve produced that’s brought a Mateen Yeaton to the readership’s long-term memory, I probably have about 10 that ended after a few posts. So the quick abandonment in itself isn’t the issue – nor is it doing it frequently.
Where the problem comes in is when you do that with every single one. The only way to cultivate a readership and have people invested along with you is to have at least one long-running dynasty/AAR. It’s how you create a fanbase that will follow you around and become a built-in readership for everything you write. Even on Paradox Interactive’s boards, where it’s been literally years since I’ve had a lengthy AAR, I still have a few long-term fans who will pop in whenever I start something new.
Imitation might be the best form of flattery, but it makes for terrible writing
Have you ever read a dynasty/AAR or a book and gone, “Wow, this person is amazing! I want to write just like them!”? Here’s the problem with being derivative – because you’re a copy, you’re going to pale in comparison to the original, and thus not be as interesting.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with being inspired by someone or seeing something they do with their formatting that you think would be a great idea to implement in your own dynasty/AAR (I myself was heavily influenced in my early career by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Vladimir Nabokov, and Haruki Murakami). But the best writers have their own unique voice and style that they’ve developed over time, and when they do take from someone else, it’s a deliberate homage to, play on, or reference to that prior work/writer.
They don’t respond to feedback and comments on the dynasty/AAR
Were I to order these in most egregious beginning dynasty/AAR writer sins, this would be second behind asking what other people want. There is no faster way to kill interest in your work and drive off your readership than not engaging with your community.
First off, it shows that you don’t care about them. Second, it’s frankly rude. They took the time to not only read what you wrote, but extended the extra effort to comment on it. It’s only polite to reply back. Even a simple, “Thanks!” acknowledges them and makes your readers feel heard.
Side note: This rule also applies to any form of social media. Whenever I see a small business fail to respond to comments on Facebook, for example, I literally cringe. For big companies and the B2B sector, it’s understandable. There’s simply too much to respond to in the first case, and in the second, social media is more of a marketing arm than anything else and responses/discussions happen via email or over the phone. But if you’re B2C or a small business, don’t do that to yourself. At least hit the Like react, even if you don’t have time to respond with a comment of your own.
That wraps up today’s segment on dynasty/AAR writing. Next time, we’ll look at how to get started and possibly some other areas, depending on how much space we have.