As I consider the requirements of writing a believable novel, I find the best descriptions come from those, not of the imagination, but of the experienced. Afterall, the word author does have its roots in the word authority. So, how can one write about something with which one has no knowledge?
If you ask me, this presents a problem. Does every thing that can be written need to be experienced by an author before it can be written about? No. Of course not. That would be absurd, however I believe there are some things which need to be experienced to write effectively or authoritatively about. So, where do you draw the line? I have a novel that I'm soon to pickup writing again called "In Eyes of Jade." The characters in this novel spend the majority of their time within the halls of a mental institute.
There's the problem.
Despite what some people may say, I'm not crazy and have no experience within such a place. I'd love to really deliver an honest, blunt, realistic and authoritative description of this institute, which demands that I spend some time within one (If I want to get the full effect) I am not suggesting that I hop in the padded cell, slip on the straight jacket and just see how it goes, but rather set up an interview or two with institute workers and or a tour.
Did any of you writers have to go through a dangerous or unique situation to acquire the research for your material? Where do you draw the line?