This is a baseball bat:
This is a softball bat:
The difference between the last two is very important if you are writing a story about someone who plays softball (which I am). I am a fiction writer. I used to think that I wrote fiction because I get to make up the story and don't have to do research and know all the facts. I'm learning now just how important in-depth research really is.
The other day I went to a sports store trying to find a cheap bat that I could conduct an experiment with. I was surprised to find out that the scenes I had written (and needed to test out) were completely wrong because of one small detail: softball bats are metal, not wood. I was also (not really) surprised to find out that sports equipment is outrageously expensive. Now, I have a few changes to make to my novel so if a real softball player reads my book they won't think I'm a complete loser.
If only my characters were runners instead of softball players and swimmers--things I know nothing about.
What research have you done for you fiction writing?