Liquid Story Binder Tutorial Part 2b: Setting up to write for pantsers

By now, the pantsers will be champing at the bit.  “We just want to write!”

So let’s write.

To recap, you should have started by setting up the program to brainstorm your new idea.  But I know a lot of pantsers do minimal prep; they rely on serendipity to provide all the background details. (If you haven’t read the first two tutorials, I highly recommend you do; this tutorial is written assuming you have.)

Either way, you will probably need a place to store things that you don’t want to forget.  So go ahead and setup the brainstorming workplace as per the first tutorial; leave out the scenes list if you don’t use it, but at least have the builder and the scratchpad setup.  Use it as you write to quickly jot down inspiration and then flick right back to writing again.  Make sure you save the workspace, then close all the items except for the file listing.

The next thing you need to do is create a Planner.  Go into the Create menu and choose Create -> New Planner.  Call it “First draft of (my book title)”.  If the viewing pane is missing, press F1 until it appears.  Unlike previous tutorials, you will need this. Save this Workspace.

1. The Linear Panster

The linear panster may not work from an outline, but they still progress in a simple forward direction.  You will be working from the Planner, but not IN the Planner.  Let me explain.

It is entirely possible to create a chapter in the planner and write directly into it.  But we don’t write in chapters; we write in scenes, and usually you’ll have more than one scene in a chapter (though not always).

So if you write directly into the planner, you end up with one of two things; either a single scene per chapter, or a chapter document with several combined scenes.  There is nothing intrinsically wrong with either option, but it takes away some of the flexibility of the program when you come back to edit your work. LSB is fantastic for editing, but you get the most out of it when you leave the planner for the final build.

Linear Plotters can use this technique as well (multiple builders per book) but I’m a visual person, and used to working with notecards, hence why I predominantly use the storyboard.

I’ve called my first Chapter “Chapter 1”, being the unimaginative linear plotter that I am.  You can call it whatever you like.  Highlight the chapter, and from the planner menu, choose New Builder.


The builder automatically takes the name of your chapter.  Now, you write; each scene in its own little unit.


Notice on the left of our planner window, there are now two files in our viewing pane; the chapter backup and the builder for this chapter.  Any file you create from within the planner menu is linked to that chapter.  You could have an outline, dossier, gallery, playlist, anything you like, specifically for that chapter.

When you think you have all the scenes you want in that chapter, from the Builder Menu, choose Build All Items.


I have chosen “Include Titles and Descriptions”, but you don’t have to.


Notice that you planner now links Chapter 1 to a chapter document, a builder document and a backup document.

Very important note

If you use this technique, DO NOT make changes within the chapter.  If you want to update text, go back to the builder for that chapter.  When you want to add the new text to the chapter, simply re-build the chapter.  It will ask you if you want to replace it; choose yes.  This way you can cut pieces out, store them in the builder and not lose them.  If you make changes to a chapter, they will be lost if you go back and rebuild.

Later, when you are editing, you can create a workspace for each chapter.  But there’s no need to do that now.

If you’re currently panicking and thinking “but I don’t know how many scenes I need per chapter!”, relax.  It doesn’t matter.  Remember this is your first draft.  If you suddenly think “I need to move scene X to chapter Y”, you can cut and paste from one builder to another, and just rebuild the chapters. It really is that flexible.

2. The Non-linear Pantser

And may I just say, you people are crazy.

Which means that you have numerous options to work from.  I recommend to start with that you work straight from the builder.  And this brings us to a new feature; associations.

From your Planner (First Draft of (my book)) choose File -> Association, or press F2 on your keyboard.


From the dialogue box, choose”First Draft of (my book): Builder.  Close the dialogue box, and rearrange the windows to suit.  Now reopen the dialogue, and click the “Save Current Workspace” button.


You’re ready to write.  Each item in the builder is a scene from your story; give them meaningful names, rearrange them with the up/down arrows, come back to them as you need to.  When you finish the book, organise them into chapters and build them, or build them as you go if you get the opportunity.

Final thoughts

When you’re writing, I really recommend that you work in a builder. I know this goes against my suggestion for non-linear plotters in the last tutorial.  But I find working directly with chapters limits the flexibility of the program.  That’s not to say you can’t do it; I just don’t recommend it.

I’m sure you’ve realised by now just how vast the options are for using this program.  I hope that my demonstrations have given you a greater understanding.  By now, you will be thinking about ways to make the program work for you, extending what I’ve written and trying out new things.

But the tutorials aren’t over yet.  Next up we look at manuscript goals, wordcount tracking, tools, layouts and preferences.  But for now, you have everything you need to write; so start writing!

31 thoughts on “Liquid Story Binder Tutorial Part 2b: Setting up to write for pantsers

  1. I don’t want to pester, I’m just curious if you’re going to pick up these tutorials again. The ones you’ve already written are the only reason I had any idea how to use this amazing program, and while I’ve had time to get to know it better and find a way I like using it, I’ve still learned a lot from your tutorials. I’m hoping you’ll return to them, but I understand that it’s been years and how-to tutorials are completely tedious to write.

    So thank you for what you’ve already devoted your time to do and I hope you continue in the future!

    • Yes, definitely. I’ve been distracted by other projects, but I’ll be starting a new one soon and I can take screenshots for the tutorial from there.

      Is there anything in particular you’d like to hear about?

      • Excellent! To be honest I like your first tease about a more in-depth look at the available writing tools, but I’d also love to see a few descriptions of LSB’s more obscure features that a new user (like me) might misinterpret or fail to use in the best possible way.

        Thanks, looking forward to the next installment.

  2. “Next up we look at manuscript goals, wordcount tracking, tools, layouts and preferences. ” Very helpful for me, a newbie to LSBXe as of April 2010. I did see the youtube vids, but your write-ups are more helpful. I’ll keep checking back for the next turorials. Thanks!

  3. Thanks for the tutorial! I just got the software and am feeling overwhelmed…wondering if I should just go back to using OneNote or something, and you have inspired me to give this more time.

    Thanks again!

  4. Thanks so much for these tutorials. I know they take a lot of time to put together. They’re much appreciated.
    I have a question, in your tutorial, I see a column of colors to the right of some windows that you can select. How did you get that set up? We have the same version of LSB, but I can’t find that option.

    • Hi Ivre, thanks for your comment. The colours are available in some windows through the right click menu. For example, to colour your scenes in the builder, right click on the item in the list, and you should see a “Color…” option in the menu.

  5. Hi,

    Thanks for the brilliant tutorials. I’m a non-linear plotter, and I’ve started using your storyboard as chapters technique. :-)

    If you write each chapter or scene as a new item directly in the builder, is it possible to search for/find text in the builder as a whole, or are you restricted to searching each chapter/scene separately?

  6. Thanks for the recap. It really is helpful.
    But question…what if you want to write using Word? Is your only choice then to write from the chapters? So you can use “external” editor?
    Thanks again,

    • If you want to write from word, why use LSB? The strength of LSB is that it is used in one package, and the word processor has everything you need.

      When you’re done, you can then export the entire manuscript to word if you like. But I cannot imagine any advantage to using LSB and word at the same time.

  7. I keep forgetting to pop in here, since blogger’s RSS doesn’t seem to like anybody else’s very much. A very useful article, and I generally try to achieve much the same effect through multiple versions of one thing.

  8. I’m having a problem grasping your 3rd installment of your tutorials. From what I see on your 2b some things seem to be missing (words, phrases). Maybe it’s just me, I could be a little dense understanding what you’ve written. After reading the first two tutorials, I was really impressed and had a good grasp of how you work with LSB, but after reading the third (2b) I’m confused all the more, just like starting all over again with LSB, which to me is one of the most confusing writing programs I’ve ever used. Can you re-explain what it is you’re doing in 2b, please?

    • Hi Larry,

      Part 2b is written assuming you have grasped all the concepts in parts 1 and 2a, as I was trying to avoid repeating myself.

      Let me know what parts are confusing you, and I will expand. Or, ask some specific questions and I will do my best to explain.

  9. Merrilee, I just wanted you to know that on day one of the national writing month thing, I’m already on chapter 26! See, I’m participating in this imperative events.

  10. I get it — so it isn’t a choice of builder or planner! I can put the builders IN the planners…very very cool. Lots of information for the next book. Thanks for doing these.

  11. This is so wonderful! Thank you so much for these tutorials. I downloaded LSB to use for NaNoWriMo this year, and two days ago I was lost just looking at the sample book. Now I’ve loaded my novel from last year (that still needs work) and I’m working on this year’s novel.
    Looking forward to more tutorials!
    Good luck doing NaNo!

  12. Once again, thank you!

    It seems like your tutorials are a big hit with the Yahoo group. Your grasp of the “big picture” of the program has helped so many others.

    Looking forward to more tutorials!

    Good luck with Nanowrimo!

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