Avoid Redundancy in Your Memoir

Every so often I like to use the blog for a mini grammar lesson. With references to “PIN numbers” and “ATM machines” tossed around all the time, let’s discuss redundancy. You want every page of your memoir to be compelling, and filling space with excess words does not meet that goal. Here are some common redundant phrases you should avoid:

Autobiography of my life. If it’s anyone else’s life, the term is “biography.”
Basic fundamentals. If they’re not basic, they’re not fundamentals.
Completely eliminated. Yes, that’s the meaning of “eliminated.”
Estimated to be about. “Estimated” or “about”—you don’t need both.
Fellow classmates/colleagues. There’s no need for “fellow.”
Free gift. It wasn’t a gift if you had to pay for it.
Future plans. We rarely make plans for the past.
Kneel down. It goes without saying that you’re not kneeling up or laterally.
May/might possibly. The uncertainty is built into the word “may” or “might,” so you can drop “possibly.”
New innovation. An innovation is, by definition, always new.
Pre-planning. How did this ever come into use?
Unintentional mistake. They’re called “mistakes” because they’re unintentional!
Very unique. If you’re correctly using “unique” to indicate something that’s truly one-of-a-kind, you won’t need to qualify it.

And what about your PIN number and the ATM machine? Spell out the acronym, and you’ll see the redundancy: Personal Identification Number number and Automatic Teller Machine machine. Similarly, refer to your GPS system as just a GPS.