In my story, a princess has to achieve a certain goal to maintain her right to the throne.
I want something(s) to be working against her beyond just that the goal is challenging, and with this particular character it would make a lot of sense if some self-sabotage was mixed in.
Have her follow the distraction only to realize it was a waste, which makes her learn something about herself?
Have her ignore it until it keeps popping up and she can't resist?
Or ideally, have her solve the mystery and find out it ties back either to her plot of her character development but in a completely unexpected way?
Anyway, the last one is most exciting to me, but I can't figure out how to do it without it feeling formulaic (or overly coincidental). Is that the point at which you would just abandon it?
Thank you for your insights!
Oh, this sounds like such fun. If it were me, I wouldn't be able to choose between, them, so I'd have it be all of them.
Your princess wants to maintain her position.
So who doesn't
want her to do that?
Would it be someone close to her, who would know about her desire, maybe even encourage her to follow the mystery?
Someone who could plant clues, lead her on? She gets discouraged, and suddenly there's this wonderful new clue to keep her going?
If it were me, the appearance of the clues themself would be
a clue. "I was just about to give up, and then..."
So the mystery she solves is three fold:
1. <mystery element on the face of it>
2. <Who is misleading her>?
3. <How to recognize that the problem at hand is really a distraction to keep her from accomplishing her goal.
If I were plotting it, that's what I'd do. That way the character development isn't just solving some ancient princess paradox, it's about her recognizing what she wants as much as anything. But then again, my take on fairy tales is more than a bit twisted. (As my main character says "You ever wonder why the lost princess stays
lost? It's because they didn't really want to find her. If I lose my car keys, you can bet I find them within a few hours. Then again I like my car keys, and would feel bad if someone took them.")