I get a newsletter of writing tips from David Farland called "The Daily Kick." It's great advice, and normally I read it, nod my head, and agree.
But I got one the other day about choosing the "right" words: the words that help place a reader in the time and place of a story, pandering to their expectations. For example, if you're writing a classic sword-and-sorcery adventure story, you'd want your characters visit a "tavern," not a "restaurant." This way, your readers know where they "are" in the universe-of-the-read.
This is really great advice if your goal is to write something as exciting as a pile of logs.
There've been times when I've written explicitly for clarity and to meet people's expectations - to give them the tavern and the star-cruiser where taverns and star-cruisers are due. But if you never try new things - if you never put a roller-skate waitress, burger-and-root-beer drive-in restaurant in your fantasy stories - then what are you doing?
Honestly: what are you doing?
David Farland is a great writer and a great writing teacher. I'm actually glad that I finally received a Daily Kick that revolted me, because it gave me a chance to think about my preferences when it comes to reading and writing. How do you Internet-folk feel about word choices? Would you rather "not know" where you "are" when you read (or write) a piece of fantastic fiction (of whatever genre)? Or do you prefer the tried and true cues of the genres?