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The Westing Game Manuscript, by Ellen Raskin (1978)

Author: Ellen Raskin

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Ellen Raskin often remarked during her career that she wished she had known “where children’s books come from” while she was a young UW-Madison art student. She wanted to make it possible for future UW-Madison students to see something of the creative process of writing a manuscript, the editorial process and matters concerning page and jacket design, decisions concerning the selection of the typeface, and many other details about creating a children’s book.

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Darcy Minsky (Jul 10 2019 2:28PM) : art student more

It’s interesting that she was an art student in college.

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Sonya Mooney (Jul 10 2019 2:32PM) : Transition more

I wonder what caused her to focus more on the writing aspect in her career?

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Richard Geldmacher (Jul 10 2019 2:28PM) : Origin of Children's Books more

This question would be great to survey both children’s book authors and adult authors! Sometimes the most potent seeds are the smallest ones.

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Anastasia Huerta (Jul 10 2019 2:27PM) : A click highlights the entire sentence.
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Anastasia Huerta (Jul 10 2019 2:28PM) : Can I highlight words only or must it be the entire sentence?

Raskin knew that the very people she hoped her manuscript materials might inspire are in and out of the CCBC all the time: art students, student writers, teachers of writing and others interested in the creative process.

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As of 1978 Raskin had made two earlier offers of selected archival materials to the CCBC. Her generous offers had been turned down, because manuscripts are not within the scope of CCBC collections.

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Darcy Minsky (Jul 10 2019 2:33PM) : Offer more

What a treasure trove of an offer. CCBC had a short-sighted perspective.

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In 1978 Raskin offered a manuscript to the CCBC for the third time. CCBC Director Ginny Moore Kruse reminded her once again that the CCBC is not equipped for preservation. Raskin made it clear that she wanted the manuscript materials to be used, commenting that it wouldn’t matter if they fell apart because of use. She preferred to think of her papers as being seen by interested art students at UW-Madison and others as opposed to being preserved but unseen by all but a few scholars. She was adamant on this point. Kruse decided to accept the offer on behalf of the CCBC. The CCBC would receive the manuscript materials for The Westing Game, edited by Ann Durell and published in 1978 by E. P. Dutton.

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Iain Coggins (Jul 10 2019 2:28PM) : Here's a sentence that I've highlighted.
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Michelle Koza (Jul 10 2019 2:30PM) : Challenging how libraries use archival materials more

“She wanted the manuscript materials to be used” which is not usually how archival materials are treated.

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Ellen Raskin hand-delivered complete manuscript and design materials for The Westing Game (E.P. Dutton, 1978) to the CCBC on May 2, 1978.

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The Friends of the CCBC held their first annual program meeting that day. UW-Madison Library School Professor Gertrude B. Herman was one of the founders of the Friends of the CCBC. Because she had a long professional acquaintance with Ellen Raskin, Herman introduced Raskin to everyone assembled in the CCBC conference room. Speaking into the small mike of a tape recorder, Raskin “talked through” the drafts of her manuscripts, telling how she developed The Westing Game.

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In these years, few writers compose manuscripts by hand or with a typewriter, but in 1976 when Ellen Raskin began to write one of what she called her “longer books,” few writers had word processing programs for developing early drafts for future publication. The Raskin manuscripts reveal multiple revisions of each draft. One can see not only the role of the literary editor and the copy editor, but the way in which an author shapes her work, something an outsider can rarely, if ever, witness, especially today.

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Leah Oppenzato (Jul 10 2019 2:29PM) : Medium/message more

How has the advent of typewriters and then computers changed the way we write?

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Opening paragraph of Chapter 2 in an early draft

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Elizabeth Keppis (Jul 10 2019 2:13PM) : Changing the article
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Radha Radkar (Jul 10 2019 2:11PM) : Impactful word
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I’m the Tech Liaison for the New York City Writing Project. I… (more)

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Paul Allison

I’m the Tech Liaison for the New York City Writing Project. I… (more)

(Jul 10 2019 2:10PM) : I wonder where she entered this.
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Alcy Leyva (Jul 10 2019 2:11PM) : Changing it from a specific raw wind to a non-specific allows for a natural, unknowing aspect of the sentence
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Leah Oppenzato (Jul 10 2019 2:11PM) : Such a subtle replacement can alter the feel of the sentence.
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Audrey Elias (Jul 10 2019 2:13PM) : Indeed!
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Audrey Elias (Jul 10 2019 2:11PM) : Interesting. "A" is more general, almost passive voice. It doesn't draw as much attention to the wind.
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Ryan Scrudato (Jul 10 2019 2:32PM) : "A wind" makes it feel like there are many winds--gusts perhaps. "The wind" seems to generalize all winds into one.
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Pamela Gordon (Jul 10 2019 2:12PM) : DECEPTIVELY SIMPLE more

This is a deceptively simple revision — replacing an article with an article — yet the switch from THE to A shifts meaning and mood a lot.

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Iain Coggins (Jul 10 2019 2:13PM) : I picked up on this too!
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Pamela Gordon (Jul 10 2019 2:14PM) : YES more

Looks as if others did, too. :-)

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Lucas Johnson (Jul 10 2019 2:11PM) : I wonder what all of the other winds were up to...
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Leah Oppenzato (Jul 10 2019 2:14PM) : You have to read the book because IT ANSWERS THAT QUESTION.
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Michelle Koza (Jul 10 2019 2:12PM) : She is deleting driveway and perhaps focusing on the entire Tower.
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Iain Coggins (Jul 10 2019 2:12PM) : Not sure how this change should read. "...on the driveway of Sunset Tower"?
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Danielle Jenkins (Jul 10 2019 2:12PM) : She made several corrections to this description of the driveway
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Anastasia Huerta (Jul 10 2019 2:12PM) : great imagery.
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Lucas Johnson (Jul 10 2019 2:14PM) : What was happening before?

Raskin always selected the typeface and designed the title page and each other page, as well, for each of her books. She designed the jacket and did the necessary color separations. All of these papers are included in the manuscript materials, along with Raskin’s notes to herself while she was working on the book.

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Grace Raffaele (Jul 10 2019 2:23PM) : Revision of the Form more

I think it would be interesting to see how the cover and typeface decisions changed or were revised. Crafting with the look of a cover to a book would be important to me as the writer.

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The Westing Game won the 1979 John Newbery Medal for distinguished writing for children from the American Library Association, the 1978 Boston Globe – Horn Book Award for Best Fiction for Children, and the 1979 Banta Award for writing excellence in a general literary competition of the Wisconsin Library Association.

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More than twenty years later, and fifteen years after the untimely death of Ellen Raskin, we are pleased to be able to help fulfill the author’s dream of making the manuscript more widely accessible by showing portions of it on the CCBC’s web page and by webcasting the original audiotape that Ellen Raskin recorded at the CCBC on May 2, 1978. These pages have been designed so you can listen to Raskin’s words while you view the corresponding parts of the manuscript. Brief explanatory notes also accompany each section so that you can learn what Raskin said about each portion if you are unable to listen to the archived audiotape.

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Audrey Elias (Jul 10 2019 2:28PM) : So helpful! more

It’s wonderful that they stitched the audio and the texts so carefully together.

“An Explanation of the Westing Game Manuscript Materials”

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The Westing Game manuscript: Ellen Raskin (mp3) (Recorded May 2, 1978 in Madison, Wisconsin)

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You may view these scanned pages from the manuscript materials while you listen to the recording of Ellen Raskin’s explanation. For your convenience, they have been placed in the order in which she speaks about them and the corresponding times have been included.

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The manuscript materials fall into four broad categories: proposal and drafts, final manuscript, working notes, and design. Ellen Raskin begins speaking about items in each of these categories about halfway into her lecture, after an introduction to her work as an author and illustrator in general. Numbers in parenthesis designate the time on the audiotape when Raskin begins speaking about that particular section. Follow the links for each section to get the accompanying visual material.

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First Fifty Pages of Rough Draft

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(begins at 17:20 on audio)
Raskin submitted these to her editor in order to get a contract. (Chapter One is displayed as an example)

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Elizabeth Keppis (Jul 10 2019 2:21PM) : Using a more descriptive word to make the writing more attractive.
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Michelle Koza (Jul 10 2019 2:17PM) : She has eliminated the article "a" in front of "doorman" perhaps to emphasize that "doorman" is an amenity and not a person.
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Iain Coggins (Jul 10 2019 2:22PM) : I agree.

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Anastasia Huerta (Jul 10 2019 2:19PM) : This revision is much more descriptive - leading them through is more specific than "showed off", which is left to interpretation as to how he showed off. [Edited]
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Darcy Minsky (Jul 10 2019 2:18PM) : inserting the "and" provides a rhythm to the sentence
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Darcy Minsky (Jul 10 2019 2:19PM) : I'm glad that she deleted "And". It puts more emphasis on the sentence.
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Michelle Koza (Jul 10 2019 2:20PM) : By adding "the man who called himself," the author is elucidating the character: perhaps he is a bit of a con artist. Is that his real name?
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Darcy Minsky (Jul 10 2019 2:22PM) : "I have" is such a wonderful cliche phrase of a salesman.
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Michelle Koza (Jul 10 2019 2:25PM) : Sharpening character more

The author removes Harry’s general boasting. She retains the descriptions of specific details of the Towers, but does not have him simply say “it’s the most spectacular building in five states.” Although Harry seems to be manipulative, removing these sentences makes him seem less nakedly so.

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Darcy Minsky (Jul 10 2019 2:23PM) : Another wonderful cliche of a salesman

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Darcy Minsky (Jul 10 2019 2:26PM) : More colloquial use than "atop."

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Iain Coggins (Jul 10 2019 2:19PM) : Changing identifier/name more

What was a general description (tenants) was changed to a characterization. I wonder if this was a much later change, or one made early on.

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Michelle Koza (Jul 10 2019 2:33PM) : Change in effect more

The word choice here changes the tone dramatically, from neutral to a more elevated register.

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Ryan Scrudato (Jul 10 2019 2:21PM) : Why does the writer choose to eliminate this detail? Is she deferring this conflict until later in the text? [Edited]
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Radha Radkar (Jul 10 2019 2:26PM) : Great observation, especially given how this draft does end.

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Grace Raffaele (Jul 10 2019 2:18PM) : Sometimes just being descriptive helps us know how the person feels - and we don't need t be told the feeling because we get it from the description.
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Radha Radkar (Jul 10 2019 2:22PM) : Great additions more

These revisions add a lot of detail that helps me understand to the narrator’s wry sense of humor and curiosity about a place that feels mysterious and strange. To also move from the wideness of the sentence regarding many of the tenants to the two who would become rich. Great build up.

First Complete Rough Draft

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After she signed the contract for the book, Raskin completed the first rough draft, rewriting as she went along. (Chapter One is displayed as an example)

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Audrey Elias (Jul 10 2019 2:24PM) : Radically different from her first version; jumps right to the puzzling incongruity of the place's name.

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Lucas Johnson (Jul 10 2019 2:17PM) : Thinking about how a "classy" speaker would use hedging to avoid the messy connotation of "problems."
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Iain Coggins (Jul 10 2019 2:25PM) : "recent setbacks" opens up possibilities--suggestive of the type of problems and how they are connected to what is happening in the story.
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Lucas Johnson (Jul 10 2019 2:18PM) : Again, embodying a supercilious tone
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Leah Oppenzato (Jul 10 2019 2:19PM) : She seems to be using more appropriate real estate language/content language if you will.

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Lucas Johnson (Jul 10 2019 2:18PM) : more dramatic.
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Leah Oppenzato (Jul 10 2019 2:20PM) : She got rid of "the man who called himself" -- I wonder why -- I am pretty sure that phrase gets put back in (but maybe elsewhere?).
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Leah Oppenzato (Jul 10 2019 2:22PM) : I can't see what she's deleted, but there's the repetition again for this character's speaking voice (that she's handwritten in).

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Leah Oppenzato (Jul 10 2019 2:17PM) : She creates repetition by replacing "yes" with "sure." This in turn develops the character.
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Leah Oppenzato (Jul 10 2019 2:23PM) : I wish I could read what she deleted -- but she's made the foreshadowing simpler. I know the "sunset years" line came out later but I like it.
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Alcy Leyva (Jul 10 2019 2:27PM) : clever change of POV

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Leah Oppenzato (Jul 10 2019 2:24PM) : Raskin seems to be playing with rhythm here, that she's switched up where she uses a pronoun and where she repeats the name.
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Ryan Scrudato (Jul 10 2019 2:26PM) : Interesting how this evolved from living to being to "isolation"--more precise.

Second Draft

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(Begins at 17:32)
Still rough, working out story and characters. “I showed this to editor, Ann Durell, who suggested I include Turtle in more of the action. Also, she found some confusion between Berti and Mrs. Baum and suggested I make their names more distinct from one another. She suggested I get into the story more quickly.” (Chapter One is displayed as an example)

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Danielle Jenkins (Jul 10 2019 2:30PM) : Interesting more

The evolution of the naming of the characters is quite interesting.

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Sonya Mooney (Jul 10 2019 2:23PM) : I wonder why she decided to change the real estate agents name.
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Danielle Jenkins (Jul 10 2019 2:27PM) : Response more

If I can recall it relates to unearthing the mystery later in the story

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Lucas Johnson (Jul 10 2019 2:38PM) : If I remember this book correctly, there was some directional motif (hence the WESTing Game title)
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Alcy Leyva (Jul 10 2019 2:27PM) : Large edits like these really change the feel of what is exactly happening

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Lucas Johnson (Jul 10 2019 2:19PM) : interesting that she would add this suffix to Baum's name.

Westing Game: Final Manuscript

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(Audio begins at 22:25) In the final manuscript, there are two versions of each page for Chapter 1, shown here. The first version includes notes back and forth between Raskin and her editor, Ann Durell. The second version shows Raskin’s revisions, based on this editorial input, and also shows the marks of her copy editor, Julie Ziercher, as well as notes from the proof reader.

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In keeping with the color coding used in the original manuscript, notes from the editor are indicated with pink type and a note from the proof reader is indicated in yellow. Click on these notations wherever you see them on the manuscript pages to get a close-up view of the notes. Here you can also see Raskin-as-book-designer begin to emerge, as she’s thinking about how each page will look in the printed book. On the revised pages of the final manuscript, she includes specific notes to the typesetter.

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Stages of this manuscript:

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1) to editor
2) back to author
3) to copy editor
4) back to author
5) author, copy editor and art director check out each page together
6) to typesetter

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Key to notes on manuscript pages:

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Red pencil = Julie Ziercher, copy editor
Blue pencil = Julie Ziercher, copy editor and Riki Levinson, art director
Black pencil = author
Pink slips = Ann Durell, editor (pencil) and Julie Ziercher, copy editor (blue ink)
Yellow slips = proof reader

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Jul 10
Danielle Jenkins (Jul 10 2019 2:26PM) : There are many changes to the letter, that the tenants received but I wondering why the windows were down played in this draft, not highlighting that they were floor to ceiling or one way.
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Jul 10
Lucas Johnson (Jul 10 2019 2:34PM) : I wonder if she thought mentioning that would be excessive

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Alcy Leyva (Jul 10 2019 2:32PM) : I enjoy this. I call it "staging" and really implies that the writer is paying attention to speak flow

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See More: Working Notes & Book Design

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DMU Timestamp: July 03, 2019 02:46

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