A red herring is a logical fallacy in which irrelevant information is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue. Sometimes this fallacy is used intentionally in order to mislead someone.

We’ll examine the term “red herring” as well as other types of logical fallacies. Red herring is a term that refers to a logical fallacy that is used in arguments. It means “a misleading statement or argument.”

It uses the fact the listener will jump to conclusions, and it makes the audience think they have found a weakness in the argument when there isn’t one.

What Is a red herring

What Is a red herring?

A red herring is something that distracts someone from the point they were making.

When someone makes an inaccurate statement or misleads others intentionally, they’re using a red herring.

This can take many different forms, from making false statements about their political opponents to providing misleading information about their own company and its products.

Red herrings appear in film and literature quite often as well. They can be used in mystery novels to distract readers from figuring out who committed a crime and why – because once the truth comes out, people see that the red herring was just a distraction and not important at all.


What Is A Red Herring?

Red herrings are typically used when someone needs to refute an argument that has already been made.

They can be used in many different ways, but they always serve to make sure that everyone is talking about something else, meaning that they won’t be able to focus on the original issue.

The actual purpose of red herrings or using them as a method of refutation is to make sure ou can properly counter your opponent’s points without having to refute their actual argument.

By making them focus on something else, it means you can potentially win the argument without having to address the core issues.

Where Does The Expression Red Herring Actually Come From?

It’s always a bit disconcerting when your favorite literary figure is based on someone who was very much real.

That’s why the origin of the expression red herring is so interesting. Red herrings were used to distract hunting dogs from their true target. 

In a way, they were often kind of like the poor man’s equivalent of a smokescreen.

Tossing a red herring could be as simple as dragging a whole smoked fish across the ground behind you. The scent would catch the dog’s attention and lead it away from the area you wanted to keep them in; or it could be done in a more literal sense by using actual red-dyed fish as a distraction for tracking dogs.

The expression eventually made its way into the world of literature, where it was used to describe something that was meant to distract readers’ attention from what was going on in a story.

A red herring was inserted into the narrative to throw people off track and keep them from guessing what would happen next. You can see this element of misdirection at work in a lot of stories, including Agatha Christie’s The Murder on the Orient Express.


Examples Of A Red Herring In Film

A red herring is a plot device often used in mystery fiction, consisting of a misleading or false clue that leads investigators toward an incorrect solution to the plot. It is often used purposefully to lead investigators down the wrong path as part of a scheme to hide the actual solution.

This can be used as a form of misdirection and sometimes to deliberately fool the audience. 

The term may have first been used by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes and one of the earliest innovators in detective fiction. In his 1891 essay, The Red-Headed League, he refers to “those cunning rascals, who will still trap a poor detective into believing that they are red-headed men.”

Red Herrings in Writing

Writers use red herrings in much the same way as hounds do when tracking scents—it draws attention away from what matters most. 

You could use a red herring to misdirect readers by: Introducing an irrelevant topic. 

This is similar to introducing irrelevant characters into your story; the focus shifts away from what matters and adds an unnecessary depth to the story.

How To Use Red Herring In A Screenplay

There are many ways that an author can use a red herring in a screenplay, but the author must have a few things in mind when using this literary technique. The main purpose of the technique is to keep the audience guessing by making them think they have figured out the plot, only to discover they are wrong.

To use it effectively, the writer must first create their story so that it can be used with a red herring. There are several different ways that the author can go about doing this.

The first way is by creating multiple motives for the crime. 

The audience does not know who did it until after all motives have been revealed. This keeps them guessing for longer than if there was only one motive.

A second way is by adding an outsider character who is connected with the crime but has no real motive to commit it. This is done by having someone come into town who has a past with one of the suspects or by introducing an estranged family member.

This will keep the audience from knowing which suspect committed the crime until after the outsider reveals their true tie to the crime or if they even had one at all.

How To Use Red Herring In Film

The key to using the red herring technique is to make sure that your audience knows that the clue has no importance. Your audience may even spot it before your protagonist does and they will feel clever when they realize why it was there all along.

However, if you don’t give the viewers enough information then they won’t be able to solve the mystery on their own and you won’t have accomplished much of anything with this literary device.

Creating Astonishing Red Herrings

A good red herring will make your reader change their focus, leaving them with no idea what they should be looking for.

Creating a successful red herring takes practice because it must seem real enough to lure your reader in. 

Some authors use music, others use language arts, and still more use metaphors. It all depends on what will work best for your writing style.