As a writer, one of my favorite things to do is research. In the age of Google and Wikipedia, research is easy, relatively fast and fascinating. What better way to get inside the head of your thirty-five year old male protagonist than by playing the games he spends every evening and weekend playing? Going to (or at least google streetviewing) the pubs on his street? Listen to the sociolect of the place he’s from so that you can sprout out believable dialogue using his jargon?
What was that? Make it up, you say? Sure, unbridled creativity is one of the joys of being a writer, but it’s no excuse to be lazy. When you write about places that exist in the real world, people will judge you if you get it wrong. So when it’s easy and fun to get it right, why not spend the extra half-hour? And most importantly, you don’t want to end up like one of these people: http://www.cracked.com/article_19160_8-scenes-that-prove-hollywood-doesnt-get-technology_p2.html
Seriously, how annoying was that?
(Couldn’t get the code to work for the link, so you’ll have to copy-paste it into a new window. But I promise it’s worth it!)