Do You Know What You Are Doing? ~ Maressa Mortimer

I met up with a friend and as we chatted, we decided to play the same challenge in The Sims. For those of you who don’t know, The Sims is a simulation game where you set up a family with a house, jobs, schooling and relationships. It can get very involved, as their emotions can influence their actions.

After a while, it can be a little tedious, watching your little people go to work, have families, earn more money, and build a bigger house, which is where Challenges come in. The instructions can be incredibly precise, like what kind of fridge your people are allowed to have, or no fridge at all.

With my friend, we agreed to play a Rags to Riches Challenge. When I got home, I decided to play the same version as her, Sims 4. This one is very different from the one I normally play, Sims 3. It looks a little like The Sims 2, but with way better graphics. I downloaded the game and launched straight in.

Did I want to try a ready game? Nah. Did I need the tutorial? Nope, just start New Game and see what happens. I picked a sim from the gallery that suited our challenge. That in itself was tricky, but by clicking through a few buttons and various options, I found out how to load the sim I wanted. I found a house plot, and the game started.

So did the fun. Where is the button for... Oh no, she’s getting really stressed. I wonder if she can do...

That’s just what my writing is like as well. Oh, isn’t it fun to sit and write down a story? I enjoyed that. It’s not in the best English, I wonder who can sort that out? An editor? They fix it, do they? Of course, for a price, the bunch of paper is a mess. Manuscript? I thought that was the word for those old books monks used to copy. Yes, I did enjoy telling the story, glad you think it’s worth sharing and publishing. When? Oh, not next week? No, I suppose it does take time to publish.

I restarted my little sims family once I was more familiar with the game. Trying to build a little house was a nightmare too. Maybe I should have read the manual first, but I figured out how to delete walls and move doors. My last book, Burrowed, was like my last game. More or less bulldozered and rebuilt. I liked the story, but the beginning half of the book didn’t flow. I didn’t know what to do about it though, so I gave up and simply handed it over to my editor with some health warnings.

By the time we had rewritten the thing three times, we were both happy. I was relieved when there was only the odd red scribble in the sideline, and some pages had no notes at all! She even left some exclamation marks for me to share with you.

What kind of writer are you? Do you read the instructions first, do some writing exercises and study all the complex words like protagonist and other words that I have no idea when to use apart from in Scrabble? Or are you like me, simply launching into a new plot, hammering away at the story, groaning with your poor characters or smirking in delight when they get their comeuppance? And trusting an editor to make it read like a book?

Maressa Mortimer is Dutch but lives in the beautiful Cotswolds, England with her husband and four (adopted) children. Maressa is a homeschool mum as well as a pastor’s wife, so her writing has to be done in the evening when peace and quiet descend on the house once more. She loves writing Christian fiction, as it’s a great way to explore faith in daily life. Because of her interest in writing, Maressa is part of Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion For Writing, an anthology encouraging people to write.

Her debut novel, Sapphire Beach, was published in December 2019, and her first self published novel, Walled City, came out in December 2020, followed by Viking Ferry, a novella. Beyond the Hills is the second book in the Elabi Chronicles, and was released in 2021, followed by stand-alone novel Burrowed, released in 2022. All of Maressa’s books are available from her website,, Amazon or local bookshops.


Ruth Leigh said…
My children play Sims - I never have because I'm too busy making up stories. I write it, as is, not a first draft, just what it is going to be and my challenge is to see how many comments and red scribbles there are. With every iteration, I learn something which I hope makes me a better writer. Nice analogy with the Sims, Maressa
Wendy H. Jones said…
Great post. Yes, writing can be a little like building a house and if you don't get the foundation right your whole plot is going to collapse. Also, if the walls are weak your manuscript is not going to stand up to the building supervisor's (editor's) scrutiny. I learn every time I get feedback from an editor. It is all a learning curve and it makes us better writers.
Claire Beesley said…
I love a bit of light structure. Not enough to restrict my creativity, but a framework within which to hold and support the story. Otherwise, it all goes a bit blobby and I end up stuck in a sticky middle with no where to go.
Sarah said…
No Idea what I'm doing really, I love this post and going to share with other writing friends, it's good to know there are many of us plodding on and hoping we are headed in the right direction.

Lovely to meet you last Saturday too :-)
Thanks, Sarah! Definitely good to see you!

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