Write Your Next Novel with Liquid Story Binder XE

Write Your Next Novel with Liquid Story Binder XE

Writing a novel takes more organization than the typical word processor provides. Novel-writing programs pick up the slack.

Liquid Story Binder XE, by Black Obelisk Software, is a Windows-only novel-authoring program that helps you to organize your story in any way that you please.

The Why and the What

Word processors are meant for writing business memoranda, newspaper articles, and school essays. These are relatively short, self-contained pieces of text that are meant to be read in one sitting. Novels are different. They are usually divided into chapters that can’t be self-contained.

Earlier chapters introduce plot elements that are only resolved in later chapters. Those later chapters only make sense if the earlier chapters have already been read. The chapters must be read in a certain order so as not to spoil the plot or make it incoherent. Organizing chapters is beyond the scope of Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

Liquid Story Binder XE provides features that address these organizational matters. And how. It provides too many of these features to be shown in a review, so this article will give a quick overview of the major ones. The nerd-at-heart will frolic among the appurtanances for dealing with a large book, but those with less patience for learing software may wish to give Scrivener a chance.

Getting Liquid Story Binder XE

Black Obelisk Software sells Liquid Story Binder for $45.95 but offers it on a free “try before you buy” basis. They make it a point to note that it’s only seven megabytes in size; impressive for the functionality that it gives. Installing Liquid Story Binder XE (hereinafter, LSBXE) is painless.

The free download works for thirty non-consecutive days. After that, LSBXE will cease to work until you purchase a registration key. The key must be entered by choosing “Register Software” from the “About” menu.

Splash Screen

Juggling Windows

LSBXE’s interface is similar to that of PhotoShop, Paint.NET, and the Gimp in one respect: the interface utilizes free-floating windows rather than fixed regions of the screen. The “Open” and “Create” menus list no fewer than twenty-one such windows. Most of them are optional, of course.

If you’re the kind of person who gets a kick out of software affordances and loves having your every possible need catered to, then LSBXE is the program for you. If your creed is minimalism, then you should look elsewhere.

Placing chapters and other notes into hierarchies is just one of the features that Liquid Story Binder offers.

To give an idea of what options LSBXE provides, there is a window into which you can note what songs you are listening to while writing your masterpiece. Don’t laugh (too much). Some authors note in their colophons what indie bands acted as their muses while they sat at their keyboards. Some of those authors make a note of it because their readers demand it.

Learing to Use Liquid Story Binder

On-line help is available from the “About” menu. Thankfully, it does not bring up a web page. Instead, it calls up a help viewer the way a native Windows application should. Black Obelisk also provides a 69-page manual as a free PDF download. Kudos to Black Obelisk for not being lazy.

The Help Viewer

Thank you, Black Obelisk Software, for including a real help viewer with your program rather than opening up a web browser.

The fourth paragraph has a link to the Quick Start Guide. Clicking on that will give a the most bare bones directives on how to start writing a book using LSBXE. For all of the dizzying number of features that LSBXE has, the Quick Start Guide is surprisingly simple.

I’ve found that the best way to learn to use this program is to follow the Quick Start Guide while occasionally switching to the included “Welocme to Liquid Story Binder” guide in order to see further examples. If you need more help, Black Obelisk provides pointers to even more help on the Internet.

You will want to refer to this window frequently when learning how to use Liquid Story Binder.

Tips

Anyone can tell you to read the manual. Here are a few tips that have worked for me when using LSBXE. The File Listing window is your friend. The icons along the left edge of the File Listing window allow you to focus your view on the types of files in your project. Use the tooltips to your advantage. Hover your mouse pointer over the icons to see which file type they control. Right-click in the window to create more of whichever kind of file you want.

You will click on this window often.

Most of the time, you will want to write in a Chapter file. The icon for that is the fourth one down on the left edge of the File Listing window. The window that comes up acts much like a Rich Text editor. The part of your story that you want your readers to actually see goes in these chapters. If you don’t like the default color scheme, then change it from the “Display” menu at the top of the main LSBXE window.

Story goes here.

Earlier in this review, I noted that word processors don’t help much with organizing a novel. That’s where LSBXE shines. The best feature for that is the Dossier. That’s the tenth icon down along the left edge of the File Listing window. Dossiers allow you to describe your characters and their relationships with each other as well as motivations that you may not want your readers to know (or which you may want them to figure out on their own).

Without a dossier, this information can be scattered throughout the novel, leaving the author with lots of editing to do if characterization needs to change.

Did you know that you can give your characters their very own diaries. Liquid Story Binder helps you do it. Yes, this is a feature.

Wrapping Up

It takes a while to get the hang of it, but Liquid Story Binder XE has a lot to offer for anyone trying to write a novel. Those who love simplicity may find it overwhelming, but those who are hungry for features will find much to enjoy in this program.


Summary

It has a significant learning curve, but it's hard to even thing of a novel-writing program with more features than Liquid Story Binder.

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