One of the considerations a mystery writer must make is how many red herrings to utilize and how to use them effectively. While there is no secret formula, conventional belief is that one or two is sufficient. When done well, they provide intricacy to narratives and fascination to stories. When used excessively, they can become annoying and detract from more important aspects of fiction.
The earliest references to red herrings in literature appear in English crime novels written by Charles Dickens between 1859 and 1866. The term was originally coined by his friend and collaborator Henry Fielding to describe parts of narrative stories that seemingly serve no purpose other than to mislead the reader.
Dickens popularized the usage of the term "red herring" in English. Prior to this time, writers used various terms to describe characters or events that were not relevant to the story but that distracted from it. Some of these terms include: distraction, obstacle, impediment, anomaly, exception, et cetera. Red herrings are commonly used in modern literature and journalism.
In crime fiction, a red herring is often a clue that appears to point to one suspect while actually pointing to another. This allows the author to explain what happened that night without revealing the actual killer's identity.
Red herrings are also used to increase intrigue and suspense.
One of the most significant components in film and television is surprise. Knowing how to develop a great narrative twist is a crucial skill to have in your toolkit as a writer. A red herring may be a terrific approach to offer such a plot twist in screenwriting. A "red herring" is a device used to deflect attention away from the truth. In other words, it's a way of tricking the reader or viewer into thinking that one thing is happening when actually something else is going on.
The classic example of a red herring in fiction is Hamlet's father. We know from early on in the play that Claudius is the true murderer, but Shakespeare wrote a line saying that old King Hamlet was seen walking around the castle grounds just before he was killed. This gave the impression that there was another possible suspect.
Red herrings are also used in movies. One example would be to cast someone who is well known for their work in a minor role and then use this as a means of distracting the audience while another character gets closer to discovering the truth. For example, if I were writing a movie about Batman and had an idea for a scene where he meets with some other superheroes but doesn't tell them who he thinks is the Joker, this would be considered a red herring because it seems like he's doing something illegal by not telling everyone involved what his plan is. In reality, he's following standard operating procedure for a superhero - trying to keep his identity secret so nobody will try to kill him again.
In a sentence, a red herring
Red herrings are techniques that lead readers astray, surprising them even more when the truth is revealed. A red herring may also be an effective approach to pique a reader's attention by implying explanations that may or may not be genuine. In fiction writing, the term refers to clues that appear to point to one conclusion while actually leading in another direction.
Red herrings can be used to great effect in mystery stories and other forms of fiction. The most famous example in literature is the last line of Tolstoy's novel War and Peace: "And so, through love, two whole nations were saved." Although this sentence seems to explain why the war ended, it actually has no bearing on the story; instead, it serves as a red herring to mislead the reader into thinking that the cause of peace was discovered when in fact it was not. Love is a powerful force for good, but it can just as easily cause destruction. Tolstoy uses this knowledge to create a feeling of doom before the battle begins.
In journalism, the term refers to information that appears to relate to the topic at hand only to reveal itself later to be unrelated. For example, a news article might report that there was trouble at the mall today, where people were robbed at gunpoint. If you had only read the article, you would assume that this incident had something to do with crime in general or with malls in particular.
A "red herring" is a wild goose chase or smoke screen used to divert the attention of readers. Its sole objective is to confuse the reader, increasing suspicion, intrigue, and surprise. It is typically used in detective fiction, although it may be used anyplace the author wants to avoid suspicion. The term comes from fishing: When fishermen use red herrings to entice wild geese away from their nets, they are following an old tradition. Geese were often caught by hunters who would then release them, assuming they had other fish to feed their families. If however, the hunters wanted to hide the fact that they were hunting geese, they would throw some red herrings into the net - objects that look like geese but that don't act or smell like one. This would cause the birds to fly toward the real geese, which would be captured instead.
In literature, red herrings are devices used by authors to direct readers' attention away from certain topics or characters while still leaving room for speculation. The aim is usually to increase suspense or the sense of mystery surrounding those topics or characters.
Some examples include suggesting that someone else is responsible for a crime, even though this person was not actually involved; mentioning an object or place only to reveal later that it has no connection to the story; and making assumptions about characters' thoughts or feelings when the story requires us to deal with reality rather than fantasy.