Reviewed: The Last Fifty Pages

Art by Mark A. (me)

Title: The Last Fifty Pages: The Art and Craft of Unforgettable Endings
Author: James Scott Bell
Publisher: Compendium Press
Rating: 4/5
Buy: Amazon (affiliate link)


What are the secrets for writing a great ending for your novel? How do you leave readers so satisfied that they’ll want another book by you—right now? What tools and techniques can shape your last fifty pages into a powerful, unforgettable experience?


A book about endings, whether it be from movies, tv, or books themselves. The first chapter sums up stories in their entirety: Endings are hard.

Personally, I find my completion of this book aligning with the completion of one of the worlds biggest television shows, Game of Thrones, hilarious. The reason for this is because of the documented outrage from fans online and one of the central arguments in this book; providing a satisfactory ending.

The first pages sells that book. The last page sells your next book.

Mickey Spillane

What exactly does satisfactory mean? As James points out “It’s not how you drive, it’s how you arrive.” To further drive home this point, James references another hugely popular television show, Lost, which was known for its twists and turns and for its ultimate unsatisfactory ending. Why was this the case? As we found out from some of the writers years after the show concluded, the writers never knew or planned on how to end the show and the result was something that has tarnished the view of the show since.

Readers and viewers are looking for a satisfying ending. Not necessarily an ending that they want, but an ending that makes sense. Often we do not receive satisfaction in our own lives and so we want that satisfaction and proper resolution in the stories we read, James deposits. We also want to know HOW we came to such a resolution in the story by being shown the necessary scenes as opposed to being told that XYZ happens.

Al us writers need a little grace to get to the unforgettable endings we desire.

James Scott Bell

This is all great, one might think, but James guides you through varying examples of known stories to deconstruct what works and how the author was able to bring the story to a close. You are also given tasks to choose your own stories and analyze how they make you feel and why, which is a great exercise that I’ve performed prior to this book by reading scripts of TV shows I loved and of TV shows I loathed and ask myself, why.

This is a short book of 100 pages. I do recommend that writers give this a read to help bolster their writing process and develop satisfactory endings for their work. No matter how good you’ve written the beginning and middle of your book, your ending could undo everything you’ve tried to accomplish and so you should pay close attention to The Last Fifty Pages.