Before I start my own little review of the software let me fill you in on my computer and software experience: When I first learned to type it was on a mechanical typewriter and the personal computer, though available to the average consumer, was not a common household item. My first experience with a computer was on a machine which was booted directly from a 5 1/4 floppy disk and ran WordPerfect 5.1. I hesitate to say that was 20 years ago. Since then the PC has moved well beyond what I thought was possible and I’ve done my best to keep up. Though I’m no whiz kid, I can navigate my way round a computer pretty well, I even know some HTML and I love exploring new programs. But for all my computer savvy there is one thing I have systematically resisted: new wordprocessors. Currently I use Word For Windows 2003, but I still lament the passing of Microsoft Word 3.1. It was a beautifully uncomplicated program in which I happily wrote several novels, or halves of novels.
So it was with some trepidation, and bias, that I downloaded a trial version of Liquid Story Binder XE (LSB). I was pretty excited when I first heard about this software. For years I’ve wanted a way to store all the information for a novel as well as the manuscript in one easily accessible place. I wanted to be able to access outlining tools and character profiles within one program instead of having ten windows open at once. So I started clicking, explored the example files and tutuorial with brows raised in anticipation. Let me start by saying that most of the reivews I’ve read for LSB have been positive and while I won’t be using it myself, I would actually recommend it for creative writers who need help organising their manuscript – LSB will most certianly keep you on track. The program itself is flexible and expansive and is capable of carrying almost everything a writer needs, but ultimately I wasn’t feeling it. For me LSB overdoes it and has the potential to be more of a distraction than a help. Admittedly I’m an old fart when it comes to software, but I found it frustrating navigating through endless screens and popups and the customisation tools left me with a crinkled forehead.
Microsoft Word isn’t necessarily optimal for storing novel sized documents or screeds of character information, research notes and outlines, but for me it remains the cleanest word processor. Most of the time all I need is a white screen to make me happy. Nevertheless I certainly encourage writers to download the trial, read other reviews and see for yourself if Liquid Story Binder makes a difference to your writing experience.