jannert Jul 10, 2013
I would say the first thing is to do what you're already doing. Research, and lots of it. Also talk to people who may know about the situation you'll be writing about, and ask questions.

However, I think it would make your job easier if you actually write your story from the point of view of someone like yourself, who is an 'outsider' to whatever new situation you're taking on. Whether your character just visits people in marginal situations, or suddenly gets thrust into these situations him/herself, your writer's voice will remain accurate.

It's kind of the same as writing about an exotic place. If you pretend to have grown up there when you haven't, you're can get into trouble portraying it accurately from an insider's point of view. However, if you present the place from the POV of a visitor, or an outsider in some way, then you will have the advantage of a slightly detached perspective—and any tonal 'mistakes' you make will be forgivable.

Obviously you try not to make mistakes, but I believe only people who have actually lived a certain kind of life really know what it's like. It can seem insulting to claim, in writing, that you know how it feels to be them.