Francine Prose, Reading Like a Writer
In her book, Prose illustrates her point, as she says she does in the college classes she teaches, by going through the opening paragraph of Flannery O'Connor's short story "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" practically word by word. Why did O'Connor choose the words she did, and why does it make a difference? By the time you read Prose's next couple of pages you realize O'Connor's choices made all the difference in the world.
I am reminded of those who say, as I have said myself, there is no such thing as a synonym. Words may mean similar things, but rarely do they mean exactly the same thing or carry the same weight. They don't sound the same, and even in the written word, how words sound makes a difference. Imagine if Austen, instead of writing "universally acknowledged," had tried "widely accepted" or "recognized around the world." How much different that opening line would have been. Instead of "a single man in possession of a good fortune," she could have written "a wealthy bachelor." Instead of "must be in want of a wife" she might have said "must be looking for a spouse" or "needs a good woman."
Would Jane Austen's opening line have been as memorable had she opted for other words to say what she had to say? I doubt it.