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November 3

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How to Use Liquid Story Binder XE for Your NaNoWriMo Novel

by Ann-Katrina

Avid readers tend to be writers, or aspiring authors, whichever you prefer, so in the spirit of the and itself, I’ve decided to publish a brief outline of how you can use (LSBXE) to breeze through your November novel.

LSBXE is a full featured program created specifically for writers–all writers, but especially fiction writers. It’s perfect for NaNoWriMo because it allows you to create goals (time and word count related), take notes, add pictures, playlists, and dossiers to keep you focused and inspired, all within the program.

To make an already great program even better, it also has a Work Log. This log keeps track of your writing progress on a per book basis. It tells you how long you’ve had the program active and how many words you’ve written for that day. It also tells you your total word count, calculates your daily average, and offers up the longest time you’ve spent writing and the most words written in a day.


As if you needed more incentive, after you’ve finished writing your novel, the program will allow you to easily compile all the chapters into a manuscript ready for intense editing, printing, or distribution.

Writing Your Novel

The first time you launch LSBXE, you will be overwhelmed; that’s pretty much a given. But once you ease into it, you’ll find it to be incredibly flexible. What you need to keep somewhere in your mind is that you can start writing right away while learning to use additional features and tools little by little as your need arises. I repeat, you do not need to use every one of LSBXE’s features from moment one. In fact, that’s why this little tutorial came into being. It is the bare minimum to get you writing your NaNoWriMo novel with a few helpful tips. I hope you find it useful and helpful.

Create a New Book

To start off with some semblance of organization, you’ll want to create a brand new book. You’d be wise to name this book NaNoWriMo.

Creating a new book is simple: Select “Library » Create New Book” from the menu. This new book should automatically open when you’re done.

Create a New Book

When the box opens up, type the name and you’re done.

Name Your Book

Tip: Avoid typing any chapter titles in your book when you’re creating it. Use the planner which you’ll learn about in the next step for this.

Create a New Planner

In keeping with the goal of organization, your next step is to create a planner for your current NaNoWriMo novel. You can name this planner after your novel if you already have a name or use something ambiguous.

To create a new planner, select “Planners » New Planner” from the menu. Your new planner window should automatically open.

Create New Planner

When the window opens up, type the name of your novel.


Tip: Make sure to include the year in the planner title. This is helpful if you intend to participate in NaNoWriMo next year and in the future. It simply becomes a matter of adding a new planner for each year’s novel.

Create Chapters and Write

The hard part is done, now it’s time to start writing your novel. The beauty of using a planner is that you can write nonlinearly. With a traditional word processor, such as MS Word, you write in one straight line. If you want to skip to another scene, you’ll need to remember where the giant gap is in the document to fill it in later. Not exactly the best for sanity. Using a planner in LSBXE allows you to write your story as individual chapters or scenes which can later be easily rearranged.

Add Chapters

Adding new items to your planner is as simple as clicking the third icon down from the top or choosing “Items » New Item” from the menu or hitting Ctrl+Ins on your keyboard.

When the new item appears, it will just be a blank row. Give it a name and description using the boxes at the bottom. The top box is used for the name of the chapter (example: “Lovers Meet”) while the box below it is like a sub title (example: “The main character…”).

Tip: Avoid using titles like “Chapter 1″ or “Part 1″, it may hamper your creativity and flexibility later if you wish to rearrange the order of your chapters. Instead, use descriptive names like “Lovers Meet” or “Dragon Battle” with the subtitle as a brief description of the action that takes place.

To create a new chapter and start writing, double click on the planner item. It will ask you if you wish to create a new chapter, say yes, and you’re ready to start writing.

A Couple More Tips

Take some notes. Add a notepad for your novel by selecting “Create » New Note” from the menu. When the window opens up, type Year Novel Notes (replacing the word ‘year’ with the actual year of your novel).

Create a Note

Use this notepad as a place to store your fleeting ideas and random dialog that doesn’t fit anywhere just yet. Reference it as needed.

Characters from thin air. When you’re hung up on a character name, you can use the random character generator built into LSBXE. To get to it, select “Tools » Character Generator“. Play with this and have some fun, but don’t use it to procrastinate. Write.

Leave yourself internal notes. Using the notepad feature is great for abstract ideas and thoughts that really don’t belong anywhere in any chapter just yet, or other things you need to remember, however, you can use notes within a chapter to mark content you need to fill in later or additional research you need to make. To create a line note, precede the paragraph with two periods (..). And don’t worry, line notes aren’t counted toward your word count totals.

You can read more helpful tutorials at the Black Obelisk website or join the Yahoo! Group if you wish to ask questions directly.

is normally $45.95 (and is definitely worth it), however, it does come with a 30 day free trial which makes it perfect for the month long writing marathon.

Comments on How to Use Liquid Story Binder XE for Your NaNoWriMo Novel

  1. # Brie wrote on November 3, 2008 at 6:38 pm:

    This program looks very helpful! I’m using yWriter4 for this NaNo, because I’m familiar with it and, well, it’s free. But for future projects I’ll probably upgrade to something a little more advanced. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  2. # Ann-Kat wrote on November 4, 2008 at 11:15 am:

    Once you get your head around it, Brie, it is very helpful software. I’ve tried a few others, but never really got into them. When I came across LSBXE, I’d installed it and ran away for about a few months. Then I came back to it, slowed down, followed the quick start tutorial and from then, it was love and it keeps getting better every day. :)

    Good luck with your NaNo! I see your word count soaring. Niiiice. :D

  3. # Belle Enchanted » Blog Archive » Things I’m Learning with NaNoWriMo wrote on November 6, 2008 at 2:55 pm:

    [...] using Liquid Story Binder, that I picked up from my friend Ann-Kat. She’s actually written a tutorial on how she’s using LSB to work on her novel for NaNoWriMo – this is more or less what I’ve been doing, and it works. I was lucky enough to pick up LSB [...]

  4. # How to Use Liquid Story Binder XE for Your NaNoWriMo Novel - Today, I Wrote… wrote on December 4, 2008 at 1:28 pm:

    [...] admin This has been cross posted from Today, I Read… since it was written before Today, I Wrote… actually [...]

  5. # melissa dominic wrote on July 1, 2009 at 5:52 pm:

    this has been one of the most helpful bits on starting LSBXE i’ve seen since i started looking for some info on it! thanks!

  6. # Ann-Kat wrote on July 2, 2009 at 2:29 pm:

    Thanks Melissa. I’m glad you found it helpful.

    I’m not sure if I updated this site with the link or not, but I also wrote another LSBXE tutorial over at my (woefully neglected) writing blog. It’s called Building Short Stories with Liquid Story Binder XE

  7. # Handy tools for #NaNoWriMo nutters « Not Enough Words wrote on October 24, 2009 at 1:47 am:

    [...] Liquid Story Binder is also a great tool for NaNo, as demonstrated by Ann-Kat at Today I Read. [...]

  8. # And So Begins NaNoWriMo… - Today, I Read… wrote on November 1, 2009 at 12:38 am:

    [...] the meantime, I’ve already set up Liquid Story Binder XE for my newest novel by resetting my global work logs from last year’s and preparing my [...]

  9. # Threedogwrite wrote on August 15, 2010 at 10:19 pm:

    Love your comments! I just downloaded it today and, though daunting, it is intuitive to me once you realize how versatile it will be.

    And as you say, don’t keep fiddling with it….WRITE.
    .-= Threedogwrite´s last blog ..A No-Brainer for Bicyclists =-.

  10. # Susan D wrote on September 8, 2010 at 3:16 am:

    Just gearing up for 2010 NaNoWM… and was thinking about software to help me organize and found your tutorial. It sounds very useful. I’m hoping I can figure a way to somehow use it on laptop and desktop to keep files synch’d. SusanD in East Bay, CA

  11. # Quiet, Read-a-Thon, NaNoWriMo, and Changes wrote on October 9, 2010 at 4:19 pm:

    [...] did last year, so if you haven’t already, it’s time to set your sights on it.) Although I have a fairly good system worked out for new novels, I’m planning to tweak that system to incorporate more Builders (which [...]

  12. # Inez wrote on November 27, 2010 at 10:59 am:

    ‘Great software; however, for the obscure pen-ster with a thinly padded budget who may actually appreciate it more (given her obscurity), it’s a dream she can’t cash.

    The 30-day free trial is fab, but cruel on day 30 and the half-off sale is thoughtful, but I’d like to suggest a monthly drawing: free software for the lucky one — plus nice publicity for Black Obelisk Software!

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