In Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman the stage directions mirror the emotional path of Willy Loman. Willy doesn’t sit on a couch. He sinks into it. He falls. His sons don’t sit up in bed, they raise up. These aren’t there simply for the sake of filling lines. They communicate the writer’s vision to the actors. They add to the atmosphere and direction of what’s happening. Even though the audience of the play may never read the text, these directions would be communicated in the acting.
According to one story, when working on the screenplay for The Godfather with Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola wrote in the direction that a character browns the onions. Puzo crossed it out and wrote in “fries the onions” saying that gangsters don’t brown onions.
The message is clear – though the audience will never see this, the use of language to communicate the story extends beyond dialogue. The same is true with prose – and in this case the reader will see these words.
Words have a lot of power. You might as well use the right one. It brings more to your writing than just aesthetics.