The Myth: Writing good fiction is about creating wonderful language. Your reader wants luxurious language.
Your reader wants a story, not language. If you were a poet or a librettist we might talk more about language, but not in fiction. Your sentences need to be understood by the average (seventh grade) reader. Wonderful language will wow your reader for a page, maybe two, but not 20 or 200.
Your reader will not work very hard to understand your sentences. There are too many novels on the shelves. Just tell the story. That is your obligation. That is how you will get read.
When you read a “highly stylized” book or story (Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” comes to mind), what you’re reading is not a voice the author is employing, it is a way of thinking, either theirs or the character’s. It is craft, not invention. (This is part of the ‘write what you know’ conversation. The way you think and speak holds wonderful stories. Write what you know in the way you know it. Your life and experience is much more wonderful and interesting than you think.)
When you reflect on your favorite book you remember all sorts of complexity and depth. However, if you go back and look at the text you’re remembering you’ll find that the language is simple and straightforward. That complexity and depth is what your mind does with story. That is what your reader will do with your story. Leave that to them.
The Truth: Writing good fiction is about creating clear and direct language. Your reader wants language they can understand.