my post from Sunday a week-and-a-half ago, I decided to take what was originally going to be a "railroad the players to the dungeon" adventure, and take it in a more "sandbox-y" direction -- essentially, converting it into a set of smaller, related adventures instead of one large "forced" one.
To do this, I'm relying on one of my preferred storytelling tools, the flowchart. What this allows the DM to do, is quickly see the various relationships between characters, locations and clues. The strongest of these then act as "pointers" to other locations. The other thing it allows me to do when "scripting" the story (because that's what this really is), is to make sure that pointing the characters (players) to any specific locale is not dependent on a "thin wire" of a clue buried in some dungeon.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of a red herring as much as the next guy, but there's no reason a red herring can't point the players in the right direction for the wrong reason, only to backfire on them.
One of the things I have to be careful of, however, is making any reference to a "higher level" encounter and diverting lower level players before they're ready. Hopefully, things like distance and danger will dissuade them. Why trek hundreds of miles away when there's plenty to explore in the immediate area before moving on?
I know this all probably sounds pretty nebulous, but that's sort of how the relationships stand right now; just look at the sketch of relationships (of locations, characters, and clues.)