An error can pull a reader out of the story, and in some cases, make her abandon the book. These errors can include, but are not limited to, incorrect placement of landmarks, incorrect usage of language, and stereotypes of people and regions.
Research is the key to creating a believable universe that holds a reader’s attention. How much research is needed depends on the subgenre, how much detail the author plans to include and the author’s level of expertise (i.e. if the author’s knowledge came solely from television dramas, she should consider another source).
Research no longer entails hours in a library, pouring over dusty books to verify facts. An author can find websites devoted to topics of interests. She can also interview experts in the field, visit museums or take classes to get hands-on experience with a skill that a character may have. And, if it is in the author’s budget, she could travel to the location in which the story is set.
By devoting a little time and effort to research, an author can add realism to a novel.