Many writers adhere to the adage - "write what you know". However, writers are not born with a wealth of knowledge. That means, our stories are limited to our own isolated lives. Often, there's need for research.
Don't skimp on research.
Tom Clancy never set foot on a sub before he wrote his acclaimed novel THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER. You'd never know because he did his research.
Consider the many crime shows on television and the numerous and popular mystery novels that hold the attention of so many passengers waiting to board planes. Chances are the author never put on a police uniform, so he better have done his research. Think about the cop who picks up a crime novel and discovers the hero catches the crook based on a blood test (a blood test the cop reader knows is inaccurate).
Even romance novels require research; especially if they include a historical setting. Don't skimp!
For my YA novel BIRDS ON A WIRE, I embed information about birds throughout the story. It's not essential to the plot, but it is essential to the theme. I spent hours, days and weeks reading up on the different mating habits of blackbirds and owls and hawks. I read bird guides from the National Audubon Society. I spoke to birding friends. I reviewed various websites and blogs.
Presently, I'm writing a story about a girl who suffers auditory hallucinations. This is a completely foreign topic to me, but it fits well for the plot. I am hip high in books, websites and information from friends, psychiatrists and other writers. I've even received great help from someone I've never met in person, crime writer Fiona QUinn. Her website bursts with info on how to catch and commit crimes - info for writers only!
Whether you plan to write a children's book, historical fiction or fantasy, you will need to do some research. Click on the links above for some great tips. Good luck!