Monday, July 12, 2010

Liquid Story: Pros and Cons

I continue my quest to hunt down information about new tools for the utmost optimization of your time and satisfaction of your needs. This week I have Grammar Bird of Prey Tessa Bazelli to talk about her experience with Liquid Story.

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My search for the perfect PC writing tool continues, but in the meantime I've found one that I can live with. I've been using Liquid Story Binder, and for novel length fiction I’m never going back to MS Word.

Pro's:

* The workspace is customizable. Liquid Story will remember which windows/tools you prefer to have open. You can change the contrast and colors of the text for comfortable reading without impacting the format of the final manuscript.

* It only takes only a few clicks rearrange chapters and scenes.

* Notes and character profiles can be grouped together with a chapter for easy reference. 

* You can set word count goals and dates for each project, draft, and chapter by chapter. It displays a little progress chart, times your writing, updates the word count as you type, and will let you know how many words per day are still needed to reach your target. 

* It will not auto-correct as you type or distract you with spelling / grammar. 

* All your writing is saved as text files so if you do not have Liquid Story installed on a computer, you can still work on your novel.

* Lightweight. I can fit the entire program and all my files on a USB stick. It’s not a memory hog either so it runs fast.


Cons:

* Built for novelists and screenwriters. Some of the functionality is better suited to screenwriting and I find I don’t need to use half of the features. 

* The interface for the storyboard and outlining modes works better for screen play work than organizing a novel. The boxes are way too small, and not made for arranging text. 

* It’s not easy to figure out how to use it at first. 

For straight up writing, Liquid Story Binder is great. I've got my workspace set up with black text on grey, to cut down the contrast, and keep my eyes comfortable. It’s got stats to satisfy my inner data junky. I can save all my files on a USB stick, take my novel with me anywhere, and work on it on any computer. But for all my writing needs? It falls short.

I guess I'll stick to outlining on paper, or come to think of it, maybe what I really need is an IPad.

10 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I've adjusted to MS word and would probably stay with that rather than spend time learning a new tool. I really don't have any interest in screenwriting either, but I can see how this might be useful for a lot of writers.

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undiscoveredauthor said...

Have you tried yWriter - and if so, how does Liquid Story compare to yWriter.

Since yWriter is free, and Liquid Story isn't, the difference - or lack thereof - could be imporant...

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T.S. Bazelli said...

Hey Stephen, no I didn't try YWriter in particular, but I tried a few others (also free) before settling on this one. I happened to catch Liquid Story on sale for 20$ so it was not that big of an investment, but I did the free trial before deciding to put any money into it, and I would recommend the test drive. Another friend of mine tested it out and he didn't like Liquid, but he was interested in doing more outlining/idea mapping.

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undiscoveredauthor said...

Thanks for your thoughts, T.S. I'd downloaded yWriter, but not used it yet. Some time ago I test-drove (and liked, then bought) another program called ConnectedText - which was really more of a full-featured Desktop Wiki, and isn't designed as a writing tool, per se. But I was looking, at the time, for something with wiki-like functionality because I realized that's how my brain works. So far I still like it, and it helps keep all my writing notes both organized and interconnected in a useful way. It was pretty cheap, too. Only like $35 or so. It looks like maybe Liquid Story has some similar functionality, but the main thing that's different is the ability to write in "scenes" and then quickly move and shift scenes around, but that's something yWriter also does for free... that's why I was interested in the comparison. If I can get that added functionality without additional investment in functionality that I already have (and am happy with) elsewhere... well, that's something to think about. Still, from the looks of it Liquid Story has a nicer interface than yWriters. What other free programs have you tried, if I may ask?

T.S. Bazelli said...

You know, I can't remember anymore. I did my serious searching about a year ago. Sorry Stephen. :( Though if you own any web space, I'd recommend Dokuwiki as a great (free) wiki that's easy to set up.

undiscoveredauthor said...

I'll look it up, but I'm pretty happy with ConnectedText. It does some things that a regular Wiki program doesn't do, actually, and doesn't have to be loaded in a browser (which was an annoying part of many free desktop wikis, from m personal experience), and has a very good interface and easy-to-use markup format.

Also... haven't had full access to my webspace in over a year (since the site's host was hacked and my homepage was replaced by an ad-page; my subpages are all still up, but I've been much too busy to fix it).