April 20, 2013

Red Herring = R: Blogging from A to Z

Ready for R!

Continuing with my Blogging from A to Z Challenge theme of literary devices, today is red herring.

Red Herring
(source)
An English-language idiom that commonly refers to a logical fallacy that misleads or detracts from the actual issue. It is also a literary device employed by writers that leads readers or characters towards a false conclusion, often used in mystery or detective fiction.

The origin of the expression has a number of theories. Conventional wisdom has long attributed it to a technique of training hounds to follow a scent, or of distracting hounds during a fox hunt; however modern linguistic research suggests that it was most likely a literary device invented in 1807 by English polemicist William Cobbett, and never an actual practice of hunters. The phrase was later borrowed to provide a formal name for the logical fallacy, and is also a formal name for a literary device or technique.


Why, you might ask, is there a picture from the A Pup Named Scooby-Doo series? 

As soon as I decided on red herring, Scooby-Doo cartoons popped in my head. First, there was always at least one red herring per episode. Second, there was an actual character named Red Herring in the A Pup Named Scooby-Doo series.

Although it's obviously a tool for mysteries, a lot of paranormal novels play with this concept. Is the vampire/werewolf/angel bad? Or, does one seem good that ends up bad or vice versa? Such a fun tool!

Do you have a favorite example of a red herring?

Please take a moment to visit some other R blogs today here.

4 comments:

Cathrina Constantine said...

Blog hopping today and I learn something new everyday, and today it was red herring. Thanks.

Shawn Yankey said...

Kaiser Sose from the Usual Suspects. Plus, I love the pup named scooby-doo cartoon!
Shawn at Laughing at Life 2

Jo Michaels said...

I remember Red Herring. He was a bad dude. :)

I can't bring any to mind at the moment, of course. Excellent use of the letter R. WRITE ON!

julieglover.com said...

This was very interesting. I had also researched the origin of red herring sometime ago, and the hunting explanation is the one I found supported by my sources. I didn't know that recent linguistic research suggested something else. Thanks, Tia!