Truth Is the Arrow, Mercy Is the Bow

Steve Almond

A DIY Manual for the Construction of Stories

The long-awaited book about the craft of creative writing from Steve Almond, beloved teacher, mentor, and author.  





Page count




Sale date

April 9, 2024


5.5 x 8.25

About the Book

From the acclaimed author of twelve books of fiction and nonfiction, including All the Secrets of The World and the New York Times bestsellers Candyfreak and Against Football, comes a craft book that is at once irreverent and iconoclastic. 


In Truth Is the ArrowMercy Is the Bow, Steve Almond employs the radical empathy he displayed as co-host (with Cheryl Strayed) of the podcast Dear Sugars to explore the joys and trials of storytelling, and to explode the myths that hold us back from writing our deepest and truest work. The book includes chapters on plot, character, and chronology, but travels far beyond the earnest intentions of most craft books. It includes essays on humor, sex, writer’s block, and the dividends of failure, as well as prompts to generate new work and a rollicking Frequently Asked Questions section. You’ll never think about writing the same way again.


“Tempting as it must be to write a self-congratulatory craft book full of breezy expertise, this volume is a total reversal of that impulse. Rather than giving us polished gems of writerly wisdom devoid of context, Almond takes us with him to the proverbial mines. . . . Almond’s vulnerability makes this book a useful companion for writers on difficult journeys of their own. . . . This isn’t, therefore, just a book about writing. It’s a book about honesty: what makes it elusive, the risks it implies, and not just how to pursue it, but also why.”

- The Boston Globe

Truth Is the Arrow is a distillation of what Almond teaches. And he does it with verve, candor, style, and courage. . . . Almond is a master.”

- Forbes

“Hilarious, heartfelt, and hopeful.”

- Star Tribune

[A] helpful supplement to any writer’s practice, be they a novice or a seasoned vet. . . . His prose has the cozy formality of a writers’ workshop, and he delivers a treasure trove of examples from literature to prove each point. He emphasizes the roles of humor and doubt and advises on how to write authentic intimacy, break the cycle of writer’s block, and move beyond entitlement and into wisdom.”

- Booklist

“At first, we thought, ‘Just what the world needs, another “how-to” book.’ Then we read author Steve Almond’s Truth is the Arrow Mercy is the Bow: A DIY Manual for the Construction of Stories. It is an entertaining and informative book on writing that is also a great read.”

- Wisconsin Public Radio

Truth Is the Arrow, Mercy Is the Bow is one of the best books on writing I’ve ever read. It’s also the funniest by a country mile.”

- Richard Russo, author of the North Bath trilogy

“Steve Almond is a master teacher, which is to say he is smart, humble and brave. Much more than just method and strategy, truth and mercy become, in these pages, instructions for meeting the world authentically, which makes for better writing, and a far more valuable life.”

- Pam Houston, author of Deep Creek: Finding Hope In The High Country

Truth Is the Arrow, Mercy Is the Bow is a hilarious book that will kick your writing to the next level. I salivated over it and underlined like a madwoman.”

- Maria Semple, author of Where’d You Go, Bernadette

“Steve Almond has done something remarkable here; he has demystified the writer’s tool kit without over simplifying the brave descent into mystery that is every writer’s task. Truth Is the Arrow, Mercy Is the Bow is deeply edifying, funny, often moving, erudite, wonderfully wise, and downright inspiring. I highly recommend this soul-nourishing and helpful book!”

- Andre Dubus III, author of Such Kindness

Truth Is the Arrow, Mercy Is the Bow is an insightful and delightful book about how we hone the craft and embolden the heart in order to write well. Clear, compelling, and rich with wisdom and humor, Steve Almond has written an essential and timeless book for writers.”

- Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things