Red herrings are elements in your story that lead the protagonist in the wrong direction of reaching his or her goals. If you’ve ever read mystery novels like Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple or Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, you know the value of red herrings. They help to add tension and conflict to a story.
Mysteries aren’t the only genre where red herrings are important, however. Most stories (if not all) have red herrings, in every genre. They are part of the journey that the main character goes through in order to reach his/her goals. They are distractions that waylay the main character and help him/her to figure out what is important.