I’m the alien that loves research. Literally.
Without research in a novel depicting a real place, what is going to set it aside and draw the reader in?
As a reader nothing irritates me more than reading about a place where the writer has got it all wrong.
Welcome to Indiana! The Cross Roads of America! You will find corn fields, roads that never end, rednecks, and innocent small town America here. Indianapolis is small in comparison to other cities. Basketball is what Hoosiers live for. And fried chicken is one word.
Now this wordage is more ironic to the average Hoosier.
It’s mostly true if you are on the outside looking in. BUT look at it from the inside and there you realize too late that you just got yourself in hot water.
Reality is people don’t like labels. In writing there is a boundary with labels. You may write something that you have done research on and label it a specific way. It depends on your reaction to backlash. Can’t take it?
Leave it to the locals. If you’re a local writing something about your said town. You put it out there with the specific intent to bring an uprising of mad townsfolk. Good for you. You know what you want and how to execute it to get the desired outcome.
Now switching hands, I’m an outsider representing a specific place in my story. The place is real, but I get all the facts wrong.
I’m writing about the wildlife of Montana. I say there are only mountains, ground dwelling bushes, very few trees, and flowers everywhere.
In reality Montana contains a coniferous forest base. Meaning there are not a lot of ground plants. It’s mostly pine trees, some sparse grasses and so forth.
In truth if you want the place to be realistic. Stick to the facts. Do your research.
Not doing the correct research looks unprofessional.
The age of the internet is here. There are virtual tours and Google Earth and all sorts of resources you can use if you don’t want to actually travel to the place you are describing.
Take the time, get it right the first time.