Listen to Paul McCusker, the man behind Adventures in Odyssey! How he got started as a freelance writer, advice for authors wanting to write for children, and more!
Paul McCusker: Video 1 Summary Notes
Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote?
I started writing poems and stories at age five. I loved to draw also, and thought I wanted to be an illustrator or write comics so I could draw as well. In 5th grade, I remember writing a play that my teacher allowed me and some friends to perform at recess.
Tell us, how did you get hooked up with Focus on the Family and specifically, how did you get involved writing Adventures in Odyssey episodes?
I worked with Chuck Bolte (who was the executive producer of Adventurers in Odyssey for many years) writing for a National Drama Troupe called Jeremiah People. During that time, Chuck was called in as a consultant to Focus on the Family for a new drama they were doing. They needed writers so Chuck pulled me in and I began writing for them as a freelancer and that led to what became Adventures in Odyssey - I was pulled in as a full time writer back in 1988.
Can you tell our visitors a little about what kinds of things there are to see and do at the Focus on the Family Visitor Center in Colorado Springs?
Visitors can eat at the Whit's End Soda Shop, check out the B52 plane from the Last Chance Detective Series, go down the huge two-story slide, try the hands on displays and record themselves as a part of an Adventures in Odyssey episode on Kids Radio to take home with them.
Paul McCusker: Video 2 Summary Notes
What's a typical "day in the life of Paul McCusker"?
Writing! Working on scripts, working with the other writers on ideas for scrips, polishing scripts, outlines, brainstorming, but mostly writing.
What is your advice to new authors - to branch out and write as much as possible or to find their niche?
I think its hard to find your niche unless you experiment with many different types of writing early on. It's important to see not only where your interest is, but also where your gifts are. Sometimes we want to write a certain type of thing, but we have to acknowledge where our limitations are. So experiment to see what types of writing you good at and that you enjoy doing, as well as what the market is wanting.
How is writing for children different than writing for adults?
Be careful that you don't "talk down" to kids. Children are not idiots, they are quite intelligent but they are not little adults either. You need to find the balance.
Use what we call the Warner Brothers approach. At the time Warner Brothers were making movies that were for kids but that would appeal to adults as well on another level. Parents shouldn't be punished if they have to listen/read with the kids.
Respect the age you're writing for with themes and language. Be sensitive to the themes you're introducing and use language that is age appropriate and that they can understand.
Paul McCusker: Video 3 Summary Notes
What is your advice for authors on self-publishing Print On Demand and/or eBooks?
The publishing industry is in a state of chaos right now and it could be a very good thing. Many writers are sitting around lamenting the changes that are happening but I honestly don't care how my work gets out. The market place will figure out the balance.
If someone is serious about becoming a published author, what are 5 things they should be doing everyday?
What should aspiring authors be spending their money on?
1) An agent - If you want to go the traditional publishing route, be looking for an agent that specializes in your genre.
2) Books - books like the Writer's Market book or the Christian Writer's Market Guide and books to study the craft of writing.
3) Writer's conferences or symposiums.
Check out the links below to find out more about Paul and what he's into!
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