My mother didn't believe in babysitters. Because of that, whenever she and my father went to a movie or a dance or out to dinner--anywhere!--I went with them. Before I was six, they rarely got to see an entire movie, however. Because I was afraid of the dark, as soon as the lights went down in the theatre, I'd begin to cry and they'd have to leave. I don't know how many shows they missed because of me. Nevertheless, we went to the movies at least three times a week until I learned to like sitting in the dark watching actors entertain me with make-believe on a 30-foot screen. (This was in the days when movies were changed twice during the week and shown continually from noon to midnight and you could buy a ticket and stay all day, gobbling popcorn and Junior Mints.)
As a result of all that entertainment--and the advent of television into my life--I'll be the first to admit that these two forms of media have largely influenced how I format my novels. Look through any of them and you'll see it plainly...the little "trap" at the beginning of the story (to lure the reader in), the "jump" directly into the main theme itself, sections where it's quite obvious commercials or Station Identifications are supposed to be inserted, flashbacks...I even try to make my dialogue as close to the way people really speak as possible. Some of it could very easily be transferred to a script. (It already has; three of my novels have been made into audio books, and hearing them read aloud, this fact was brought home to me very quickly.)
I've also tried my best to suit my dialogue to the era of the novel. As I've said before (and I'm sure my writer friends are getting tired of hearing it) if there's one thing I can't stand is hearing/reading a glaring anachronism in a story...a knight informing someone he's "going to sleep in tomorrow" because he just slew a dragon; a conquistador telling his men to "listen up, guys!"; someone in colonial American saying "Okay!" The gritting of my teeth against each other can be heard from coast-to-coast.
As one of the Writing Sins, anachronisms are high on my list, so I try my best to be as accurate as possible. If I want to use a specific word or item in a story and it's a fairly modern one, I research to see if it was around during the time in question; if it isn't, I try to find a equivalent which was. I've researched cigarettes, architecture, underwear, matches, hand pistols, chewing gum, condoms...you name it, and you'd be surprised at the information I've found, and the items we have today which have been around for a lot longer than you'd think! The meanings of words have changed over the years, too, and I've had to decide when using some of them whether to use a more modern synonym instead so there won't be any misunderstanding of what my "people" are really saying.
A good example I like to use for this is having a story set in England in the Thirties, and having one of my characters say to the other: "Don't get gay with me. I need a fag. You got one?" O-ka-a-ay. That bit of dialogue doesn't mean what it looks like. In reality, all the character said was "Don't be such a smart-mouth. I need a cigarette. Do you have one?"
See what I mean? Sometimes you have to substitute on the side of propriety and public acceptance so there'll be no misunderstandings.
The information I've researched for stories set in the past can also--with a little adjustment and perhaps enhancement or exaggeration--be used in science fiction or futuristic novels, too. So if you come across a bit of esoterica, store it away. Who knows? It may be just the tidbit you need for that next book you're writing.
Presently, I have three books being released by Lyrical Press: Jericho Road, Earthman's Bride, and When the Condor Returns. The former is a contemporary romance set in Vietnam Era Georgia, the other two are futuristic romances placed in another galaxy. Jericho Road was released this month (there's a trailer to tempt you here); the others are set for May and June. They abound with plenty of research.