"Exotic": Cliché or necessary evil?
I know we are supposed to avoid using the word exotic in our writing as it is overused and can be read with various connotations. However, sometimes I truly feel like this is the only word that can describe a place. Are there any exceptions to this “non-exotic” rule?
It’s generally going to be more effective to give the ground level details of place/people than to wrap it all up in “exotic” – the thing is, exotic is a relative term. Something may be exotic to one person, but not to another, which is why it’s sort of meaningless. If you describe with good detail people will infer “exotic” (or not). Think about what it is that makes something exotic to you and describe that.
To expand on Carlo’s comment, I think it would be less cliche if you were writing about a character (even fictional) who used the word “exotic” in dialogue to describe something, but as the narrator (you), then yes I think it would be best to describe the details that make it exotic for your reader. Just my dos pesos.
Many people of color find the word “exotic” to be pretty demeaning, mostly because it’s a cheap way to over simplify another culture. It also tends to invite descriptive language that we wouldn’t use to describe western cultures. Check this satirical blog.