Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Techie stuff -- LSB

I've been remiss. Theadra asked for more information on Liquid Story Binder ages ago and I haven't responded. Well, that's just like me, I'm afraid. But now I'll set the record straight.

What is Liquid Story Binder? It's a terrific piece of software that runs on PCs and Linux ( but not on the Mac as far as I know) that combines a word processor with a herd of other useful, dare I say essential? tools for a writer. With it you can plan, track and manage your writing projects from conception to query. And it keeps backups for you, which is huge if you're like me. If that's not enough for you, it can be installed on a USB drive, so is totally portable. Take it to work with you and use it during lunchtime, going to babysit for a friend? You can work on your project while the kidlets snooze ( always supposing their parents have a PC you can use.)

And now for a few of the features.

Like to keep detailed notes about your characters? Dossiers accomplishes that and, what's more, you can use dossiers for world-building too. Have an image of your MC in mind? Does that photo of the Scottish Highlands remind you of the setting for your story? Pop it into the dossier and it will be there ready to display whenever you open it up, along with as much or as little detail as you wish to enter. It's incredible flexible, and you can keep multiple dossiers open while you write too.

I don't like to listen to music when I write, but I know a lot of people do. LSB can manage a playlist for you so you can have music while you work effortlessly.

Timelines your thing? You can keep track of your characters and timelines with ease, and color coding them makes it simple to see who's where and when. A related but different tool is the Storyboard. You can use them like you would an index card, and you can move them around until you get the story straight. I color code them the same way as the timeline so I can tell at a glance which scene is in which character's POV.

Need to track your goals and the time you spend writing? It does that. Tell at a glance how many words you wrote in this session, how many you still have to go to meet your goal, are you ahead or behind your schedule?

These are only a few of the great features that LSB has. You will have to put in a bit of time getting up to speed with it, the learning curve is fairly steep, but it's very worthwhile, and there are tutorials on how to use the major features, plus a very active community of users who'll help you find your way around the software, and the most responsive developer of ALL time. Jesse Wall answers questions about the product and requests for enhancements like no one else! AND… you can try it free for 30 days. Download it from Black Obelisk Software

If you don't love it don't buy it, but I think you will.


Anonymous said...

You know, I didn't think I would be interested in LSB, but after your post, I just might try it out. I love Linux, but I have an issue when it comes to sending email queries to agents and trying to attach a document.

Most agents use Word, and the Linux processing tool I have, while it can take a Word document and make it work, can't save the work as a Word document. It's been a real pain and forced me back to Windows for writing. This might just be the answer.

Thank you for doing this post. Oh, and have you ever thought about working for LSB? You'd make a great a salesperson. : )

Liz Brooker said...

I'm glad you liked my review. LSB outputs files in Rich Text Format (RTF), so it's easy to import into Word, but unfortuately you're still stuck with Word if the agent will only accept that format.

You use Linux? Wow. I do for work, and, sad to say, I have my own sandbox. I don't think I've met anyone other than a tech-head (like me) who uses Linux for everyday stuff though.

You're not the first person to say I should be selling software! I was offered a job by one company because I was such a huge advocate for their product. In the end we couldn't agree on the details, but it was a wonderful compliment. You need to understand I have to really like something before I become a fan, but when I do... well, I just want to get the word out.

Daeruin said...

I got so excited about LSB after reading your review, but it was just another tragedy for me in the end: I have a Mac at home. Sigh.

Liz Brooker said...

Ah but Daeruin, have you seen Scrivener? I've heard nothing but good things about it, and it runs only on Mac.

Daeruin said...

Oh, man. Now I think I am actually going to cry. Scrivener looks beautiful. And it requires Tiger. And I only have Panther. One of these days...

Thanks, though!

Daeruin said...

OK, I may have wept a little too soon. The author of Scrivener has thoughtfully provided a list of other, similar software. I wish more people were more up front about their competition. I hope that one of these programs will work for me. In any case, I'm glad to have found out about LSB. I didn't even know such software existed, and it's pretty exciting. I have a really hard time keeping track of everything using just Word. I have dozens of files containing stuff on characters, setting, or just random thoughts. I need something to keep me organized and keep all my stuff accessible.