December 16, 2010

Liquid Story Binder

I've spent my entire writing life either writing longhand in a notebook or typing using a word processor (Microsoft Office all the way through college; OpenOffice ever since). I've had elaborate filing systems to keep my planning separate for my drafts, and a filename system to distinguish between drafts. And these methods have always worked well for me.

And despite being familiar with the old adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," I couldn't help feeling compelled to try something new. I'd been hearing about Liquid Story Binder largely from NaNoWriMo friends, and decided I had to check it out.

My NaNoWriMo 2010 effort is currently in hiding in my hard drive, and I've started a new long project - a novel told in connected short stories (i.e. The Martian Chronicles or I, Robot). So far I have 25 prospective characters. I'm building a near-future world a bit different from the world we have right now. It's pretty complex. And I decided I wanted to see how Liquid Story Binder held up to my regular system when tacking such a project. So earlier this week, I downloaded the trial version.

So far, I'm pretty happy with it! There's a bit of a learning curve, and it's not always intuitive (I still don't understand what the MindMap feature dues, and I can't figure out how to create the Storyboard), but all in all, it's a fantastic way to store research, make little notes to myself about plot development, create an outline, store images, make to-do lists, and draft chapters. And it's pretty navigable even without reading any documentation (I'm pretty sure I could figure out how to work Storyboard if I just did a tutorial or something, but I haven't yet). I like to try to figure out software before I turn to the manual, and I'd say I'm operating it at about 75% efficiency without having glanced at the documentation.

Liquid Story Binder is not really a necessity for my writing. I'm enjoying it, but I would be doing just fine with my old system as well. But LSB is a lot more *fun* than word documents and folders. It's a lot more visual, and all-around cool.

The trial is free and doesn't expire until it's inactive for 30 days, meaning you could theoretically use it forever without paying, pending you didn't let it sit idle that long. I recommend that anyone working on a complex project give it a shot, if for no other reason than you can try fully-functional software to see if it works for you.

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