5 Ways to Create Red Herrings in a Mystery Novel

Great ways to create and incorporate red herrings in your novel!

Global Mysteries

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Killer IdeasRed herrings play two important roles in a mystery novel. They heighten suspense and add greater challenge to a mystery puzzle by misleading the reader and/or the sleuth. A red herring is a false clue that a mystery writer uses to send readers and sleuths off in directions that do not lead to the apprehension of the real villain. Here are five strategies for creating red herrings:

1. Choose an innocent character and give him a motive that makes him a strong suspect in the murder of a victim. Near the climax of the novel, reveal something that proves the character’s innocence. Maybe the victim was blackmailing the red herring character—strong motive. However, the red herring was in the drunk tank the night of the murder.

2. Put an innocent character at the scene of the crime. Maybe he had come to drop something off for a friend who lives…

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