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What is a Red Herring in a Story | 3-Minute Fiction Fixit

A red herring is a literary device that distracts the protagonist – and the reader – from the plot or the real villain. When it’s done well, it’s really satisfying, because readers like to be surprised by twists – and that means the author has to trick them.

A little misdirection can be a great addition to any story, no matter what the genre. The key is to surprise your readers without making them feel cheated. A red herring isn’t a logical fallacy. It’s an informal fallacy, which means the reasoning is flawed – not the logic. You want to distract and misdirect your reader by giving them clues and insights that guide them down a path that makes sense. You lay out the facts of your story in a way that leads them to draw the wrong conclusion.

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From Premise to Plot: A Guide to Plotting
My FIRST First Draft Checklist
My Revision Game Plan

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