It’s been a little more than two weeks since I’ve started fiddling with Liquid Story Binder XE. Two weeks of reading and watch tutorials on how to use it. Two weeks of setting up a configuration that works for me. Two weeks of organizing and reorganizing.
Which boils down to two weeks of not writing or editing.
Really I can’t blame the entire two weeks on LSBXE. I’ve had other things pop up. I’ll go more into that this Friday at the PLC. So let me get to my final verdict to hopefully save yourself some valuable time.
I like it.
The way LSBXE let me customize EVERYTHING on it is awesome. It doesn’t hold me down to do things its way. I can even use it in ways that might not have been originally intended without it causing the software to fail.
When you open up LSBXE, it creates a desktop workspace. Every other program you use opens a new window inside that desktop. You can arrange these windows however you like, and it will be saved in that configuration for whenever you return to it.
To start a new project you need to create a new Binder, which in essence is the book you’re writing. Each Binder can be customized for a different look, feel, functionality. This is useful for getting in the mood or tone of the book.
From there you have a plethora of options. If brainstorming is your thing, you could use the Mindmap. Here you can throw out ideas and spiderweb them all together. It’s also easy to incorporate images. Those images could be used in making Dossier files of character or creatures. Or, attach images in a Storyboard. I could see this being useful to screen writers or comic book writers.
Do you use more than one computer to do your writing? This program is small enough to fit on a thumb drive. I have mine loaded on a 4GB card that I keep in my pocket. Now my stories are accessible wherever I want to write, either at home or at work (shhh…). I would still advise to make backups by storing docs in multiple places, i.e. emails, external hard drives, stone etchings, etc.
If your novel is getting tangled in its characters and when things should happen, there’s a Timeline feature that could help straighten them out.
Does music help shape your worlds and characters? LSBXE helps you create specialized playlists. I haven’t tried this feature mainly because I’ve already created said playlists in another program.
I’m really only scratching the surface here. Outlines, Checklists, Alarms and Goal Settings are just a few more options you can use. I’m starting to sound like an infomercial, so let me move on to the cons.
I’m used to Word. Through all the upgrades and changes, I still know what to expect and how to use it. Moving to any other document writing program will have hindrances based on what I already know and am used to. When it comes to actually writing a Chapter in LSBXE, I have to alter the way I think on how it should look as I’m writing it. This should make no difference solely because upon creating the full manuscript, I can format the whole piece from the print manuscript screen.
It also has an option called Typewriter. This in theory is a cool feature. When it’s turned on, the screen turns completely white except for a blinking cursor and the words you type. Absolutely no distractions, just you and the written words. Then I discover the program’s namesake. It acts just like a typewriter. If I notice a mistake a few lines up, I can’t click on it and make the fix. I would have to delete from where I was at to the point I wanted to fix and rewrite back to where I was. I guess this feature is good for just getting the words on the page. You can always go back later and make the edits. It’s a matter of retraining my brain to use this feature. I know how tough that’ll be.
Then there’s the whole matter of how long it takes to set things up in a way that makes sense. This is the single most time-consuming part. Time that I should have spent writing and editing. I spent a lot of time figuring out how to import an existing document. It can be done, but is far from intuitive. For starters the imported doc needs to be saved in an
So here’s my suggestion. If you are in the middle of a project, do not even attempt to switch to Liquid Story Binder XE. You will lose whatever momentum you had in building your story while trying to figure out the software. However, if you’re getting ready to start a new project, definitely download the free trial to see if it’s a match for you. It’s thirty days long and gives you access to ALL of the features.