Many years ago, some scenes for a major British film were shot in my home town. We watched some of the filming one evening. When the film was shown the following year, of course we went to see it. In one scene, a bus pulls up outside the Town Hall. You could sense the reaction all over the cinema, with people muttering ‘Buses don’t stop there.’ In that split second, the illusion was lost as people with a personal knowledge of the location were distracted by an inaccuracy.
In my opinion, writers must always take into account of the fact that one or more of their readers will know the place(s) in their book(s) unless, of course, they are completely fictitious. All the research in the world will probably not give you the information to avoid making an error which causes the reader to say ‘Buses don’t stop there’ (or similar).
In short, I find it much easier to describe a place if I've experienced it for myself. Not simply to avoid basic inaccuracies, but also to help my readers to experience it too. I admire those writers who can use settings with which they’re not personally familiar, but I need to comfortable with my setting. In my N post, I gave some of the reasons for my reluctance to write a historical novel. Maybe this is another one – I can’t experience for myself life in the 19th century
- or any other era for that matter, therefore I would find it difficult to descibe it for other people. New York