Years ago people used to say: "Write what you know." The philosophy was if you didn't have an intimate association with the subject -- or a PhD on it, anyhow -- you shouldn't write the book.
Well, that's a bit limiting, don't you think? If we all went by that advice, I can tell you at least half the secret agent; billionaire; cowboy; time-travel; and vampire romances would disappear from existence. Especially the latter.
We can't stick to what we know, but we can learn enough about a subject to write credible stories. Say it with me now: research. Have I mentioned I really don't like this part? :P It takes so much time away from the fun stuff of creating worlds, manipulating characters, etc.
For my current wip, BROKEN, I discovered there's a crucial scene involving my heroine having her future revealed by a friend. Until I got to this point in the story, I hadn't realized just how vital this scene will be. When I first mapped out the book, it was only a stepping-stone to the next scene, but now...things have changed.
I've had some small experiences in my former life with Tarot cards, but not enough to write a believable reading. Sure, I could try to fake my way through it -- after all, everyone has their own style and there are hundreds of different decks of cards these days. But I just know someone, somewhere, would notice if I goofed. And they would, understandably, complain. Or even go so far as to write a bad review or, worse yet, never buy another book from me! All this because I stepped outside my comfort zone without a net or a clue.
So, I bought a book that explains the basics. Hopefully I can draw enough from that -- and long-ago memories -- to create a plausible scene. My heroine needs this guidance; she needs a wake-up call, to be honest. And who better to give it than the best friend with her own special gift? ;)
Almost done... on to the next murder, a little mayhem, the black moment and our Happy Ending.