Liquid Binder

If you’ve found my post “Anniversary of Insanity”, then you know that I’ve been writing for a while. After 15 years, one tends to collect a lot of notes. I have binders and boxes and more boxes filled with notes and red-lined drafts. More than half of it is probably obsolete because of the major overhauls, but I just don’t have the heart to dump the boxes in the recycling bin. Something in there might be useful! (Yep, can’t you see Flylady rolling her eyes?) But as for sorting through it and throwing out at least half… well, who has that sort of time with 4 kids?

Meanwhile, I don’t claim any inherent organizational skills or tendencies… Those who know me well, would probably scoff and deem that a serious understatement – especially when it comes to papers, notebooks and book notes.

Plus, I’m a writer and I write – where ever I be, on whatever I find handy, be it a program flyer, post-it notes, scratch paper, school assignments. Those papers are then brought home, stacked on my desk, shoved in books or drawers and I just hope that I memorized it as I wrote it because I really don’t stand a chance of finding them again, or at least not when I need them.

Those that did manage to get typed into a computer fared a little better, but three scribbled sentences that filled a notepad paper really doesn’t work as a word document… And it leads to tons of files. To more effectively use space and time, I started just mass transcribing stacks of notes into one long collection of mismatched information – um, to sort later. The file names were probably along the lines of “Misc Notes” hopefully “for such and such book” if I was lucky.

So, about two years ago, I figured it out. I needed a program on my computer to keep track and link it all together! Saw “One Note” on my Husband’s new computer and that looked interesting, but swallowing the price was something that just didn’t happen. However, for those who do have the program, check out Keven’s post about how he uses it to write!

For a while I decided that I wanted my Husband, the computer programmer, to create one for me. He talked to me about it for a while and toyed with it, but to be honest, I tend to dream big and he already takes on far more than should be expected of him.

So while surfing and browsing, I searched out some of the programs that people are actually using out there. One that I found mentioned was Scrivener that people found versatile and popular. However, it was only for Apple (Note: last November I heard an announcement that they were going to release a Windows’  version), but those looking for a similar option in Windows talked of one called Liquid Story Binder by Black Obelisk.

After some research, the general impressions I got on the program was that it was seriously versatile and had so much potential that some people felt it was too much. From storyboards, image galleries, character dossiers/profiles, timelines, outlines, journals and even playlists, it had all the bells an whistles! Well, not one to be intimidated, I tried out their free trial period.

I definitely recommend browsing tutorials and other aids in learning how people use the different types of formats. One of the foundational elements of the program is the ability to link items by “Association”. Like with a physical binder, you can put pages and even an entire notebook inside to be kept together. Liquid Binder works similarly – books within a book.

For me, the versatility has been great. I’ve created “binders” for each major world so as to keep series notes together.

Within each character profile (called dossiers) you can create a journal for each character, or playlist, or timeline or whatnot. As an artist, I love the built-in feature of putting an image with each character. But if you want to, you could also use a dossier for a location or relic, complete with image, history timeline etc.

The system can be set up to regularly back itself up. I’ve set mine to save a back up every 5 min. It also tracks word counts, goals and other writing stats for you.

One of my favorite features is the double period technique. It allows you to write hidden notes or text that doesn’t show up in the “reader” versions of your chapters.

There’s a mind map setup that allows webbing out ideas.

Unlike Word, Liquid Binder remembers where you were last and opens right up to that point so that you can keep working without having to scroll down. It will also open up the notes and other windows you were using. Preset collections can also be designated as “Workspaces” to facilitate projects.

To be honest, I still have plenty of stuff on here that I haven’t explored yet. Sometimes in one book I’ll use one format for a certain thing, then for a different book I’ll try a different format for the same function – such as keeping track of minor characters that don’t merit a full dossier, or keeping track of creatures and other world building notes.

A couple things I hope they change for future versions (which, unlike with Scrivener, are free once you buy the program once).

  • Because the association link is based on file names, so far it seems only able to create one of  each type of format on each level of association. In other words, I can’t create two separate playlists (or storyboards, timeline etc.) listed directly under the same book.
  • I’d love to be able to compile-export journal entries. As I’ve noted, I haven’t explored everything so it might be possible, but I haven’t figured it out yet.
  • The spellchecker system doesn’t run automatically – which can be a good thing sometimes because it’s not as distracting, but it’s one of the reasons I eventually moved back to writing the actual manuscript drafts on word – so I can edit out all those annoying type-ohs
  • Do you think they could create a hybrid app to allow Write or Die to function inside Liquid Binder?

All in all, I’m very pleased with the program. Although I’m still writing the actual draft of my current wip in word, Liquid Binder has been a wonderful place to brainstorm, outline, profile characters, track consistencies and finally be able to keep it all together in one place!

About Ren Black

Part-time novelist. Weekend artist. Full-time Mother. Ex-poet. Perfectionist by training. Compulsive researcher sporadically. Prone to fits of linguistic commentary Unorthodox Renegade occasionally. Sarcastic by habit... Dreamer Always... Consider Yourself Warned

6 comments on “Liquid Binder

  1. Thanks for the review, Ren. I’ve been considering both Scrivener for Windows and Liquid Binder. I’ll def take this into consideration. 🙂

    • You’re welcome. Don’t know if Scrivener has a free trial too or not, but I think so. If you want, you could probably try out both, then decide what is best for your style.

  2. My Dearest Ren,

    Very interesting and informative post.I think my husband will be interested in this program.

  3. I am such a paper girl. Maybe when I’ve been writing for 15 yrs my tune will change, but for now, it’s either a full-fledged documents in Word, or scribbled notes on paper. I love spiral notebooks! 😀

    • Yep, I know that side too. I still have notebooks for my stories and lots of handwritten stuff. I have diagrams and all sorts of things. But at least I know I have a digital “drawer” to put them in where I can find them when I need them – that’s the cool thing for me. Paper is handy and travels well. My Husband hasn’t converted me to an ipad yet. lol

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