One of the things I love about Liquid Story Binder XE (LSB) is how easy it is to create profile sheets for characters using dossiers.
Dossiers aren’t only useful for character profiles. They’re handy for locations, species, bestiary entries — anything that requires information in non-narrative form, really.
Think of them as actual dossiers, the kind the police or government might have on people or places or things.
You can make dossiers to hold as much or as little information as you like. My original dossiers are really long and hefty character profile sheets because I got bogged down in information that was never actually needed in the story (like shoe size and favourite sexual position hurr hurr). I eventually narrowed them down to less than fifteen items.
What fields you include in your dossiers is really up to you. If you need hundreds of bits of data to get to know your characters, then add them! Just don’t get bogged down in useless crap like I did.
What are the parts of a dossier?
A dossier is made up of three or four panels:
- the list of items (otherwise known as “fields” in the dossier),
- the edit box which shows the item that is currently active (basically, whichever item you just clicked on),
- a main image,
- and a row of thumbnails.
Each item in the list has a title (the larger text) and a caption for your notes.
You can alter the layout of your dossier by pressing F1 repeatedly. This will move the edit box around or hide it completely.
You’ll only see the main image and thumbnails if there’s an image or gallery associated with your dossier. Otherwise, all you’ll see is the list of items (as in the screenshot above). I’ll talk more about adding images later.
How To Create A Dossier Using Templates
Creating a dossier is very easy, especially if you choose to use one of the built-in templates.
For the sake of example, let’s create a character profile. (The steps would be the same for any type of dossier, you’d just pick a different template to start with.)
- Select “Create” from the main LSB menu.
- Click “New Dossier”.
Give your new dossier a filename and click OK. This saves the file under the filename you just gave it.
- Click on the “Titles” menu in your dossier window.
- Select the type of dossier you want to create. (For this example, select “Characters”.) Your dossier will fill with pre-designed items with field titles like “name” and “age”.
- Fill out the fields in the template by double-clicking on the caption box for each item.
- Save the dossier frequently by pressing F12.
I would advise only entering up to three lines of text in your captions. They can include more, but it can be difficult to get to the rest because the item height is fixed. You have to double-click on the caption then scroll through it with your keyboard arrows, which can be a pain in the butt when you’re trying to quick-check a fact while writing. You’re better off adding extra items for longer captions and leaving the titles blank.
Save, SAVE, SAVE!!!
At this stage, you should have a neat little character profile. Make sure you hit F12 to save the dossier before you close the file!