In earlier videos, I showed you how Robert Burton used the Power of Three and the Power of Dualities to structure this book.
We also saw the marvelous opening paragraph (I’m going to include the links to all these videos below).
Now in this video, we’ll explore three wonderful lead sentences.
Here’s the first one. First of all, we are in the subsection two in the first partition. This is the very first part of the book but this is subsection two.
And look, it consists of:
- the definition
- the number
- the division
It could be three paragraphs, each one devoted to the definition, number, and then one to the division. Or each of these could have more than one paragraph devoted to it. But let’s take a look at how the first paragraph works.
A lead sentence is the first sentence of the paragraph that summarizes it perfectly. And let’s see if that actually happens here, and it does.
“What a disease is? Almost every physician defines.”
So you can learn from every physician, from every doctor what a disease is. That’s the definition. He is going to define what disease is, and he’s introducing this idea with this sentence.
This pertains to the definition. And he gives you several examples how several different physicians of the past (we’re talking about ancient physicians, physicians of his day) and how they all define what disease is.
“Affection of the body contrary to nature;”
“An hindrance, hurt, or alteration of any action of the body, or part of it;”
And so on.
But we’re interested in the first paragraph, and the first sentence introduces the paragraph perfectly. Because he writes, “Almost every physician defines” and then he gives several examples of physicians and how they define disease.
It’s a perfect lead sentence for this paragraph.
Next. If you look at the next paragraph,
“How many diseases there are, is a question not yet determined.”
Now, he puts a semicolon there. I would teach you to simply put a period. He puts a semicolon, and that’s fine. But it is a full lead sentence. Why? Because if you look at the topic again, what comes after the definition? It’s the number.
We are talking about the number of diseases. “How many disease there are is a question not yet determined.” So yes, nobody knows how many diseases there are. The point is, there are many.
“Pliny reckons up to 300 from the crown of the head to the sole of the foot elsewhere he saith.”
And so on.
And you can see from here that the first sentence is again a perfect lead sentence because it summarizes this paragraph perfectly.
Now one thing I want to tell you, if we look here, the lead sentence could introduce more than one paragraph. Not every paragraph needs to be introduced with a lead sentence.
Look here. This is the second paragraph of this little subsection where he talks about the number.
“No man amongst us so sound, of so good a constitution, that hath not some impediment of body or mind.”
Basically, he is saying that everyone has a disease. In fact, this is kind of a lead sentence in a sense, as well. It introduces another little subsection of that part that deals with the number of diseases.
But in this video, I want to focus on the main lead sentences, just the lead sentences that introduce an idea.
What is the idea? The idea is that there are many diseases and God knows how many there are. Nobody has yet counted them all. Some say it’s 300, some say it’s a thousand, and so on.
Now, a lead sentence can be spread over two sentences. That’s very interesting, right? A lead sentence could actually be two sentences. I don’t necessarily teach people to do that.
If you are introducing a very, very large section, then that may be required because it is just too much to deal with in one sentence. But here, I just want to show you how it actually works.
So here’s what he said. There are two parts to this little subsection about the division of diseases. If you remember, there were three parts to this little section here.
So the three parts are the definition of diseases, the number of diseases, and the division of diseases. Division into what? Into categories.
So here’s what he said in the first sentence here in the final paragraph of this section.
“If you require a more exact division of these ordinary diseases which are incident to men, I refer you to physicians.”
Now he says, “If you want a very, very exact division into categories, go to the doctors. They will tell you of acute and chronic, first and secondary, lethales, salutares, errant, fixed, simple and so on,” and there are so many categories.
And in the next sentence he says (and that’s the second part of the lead sentence. This second sentence is the second part of the lead sentence. Of course, these are two different sentences but they together form the lead sentence.):
“However (he doesn’t say however but that’s the implication), my division at this time (as most befitting my purpose) shall be into those of the body and mind.”
And that is the whole point.
Now he can talk about diseases in terms of diseases of the body and diseases of the mind and he makes it easy for himself to classify them, to discuss them throughout the book.
It’s just so much easier – diseases of the body and diseases of the mind. Very easy and simple.
So these two first sentences of this paragraph make up the actual lead sentence which is kind of like a little thesis statement for that section of the paper.
So here are your takeaways:
- Make sure your lead sentence summarizes the paragraph perfectly. Very important. It could introduce a paragraph or a section, which is more than one paragraph.
- A lead sentence can introduce more than one paragraph. Not every paragraph has to have its own lead sentence, but I advise that you actually do that – introduce every paragraph with a lead sentence.
- Make sure your lead sentence is precise and succinct. No need for a lengthy, very long lead sentence. Just like you saw in the first example, in the first lead sentence: it was very short, succinct, straight to the point, and this is how you should keep your lead sentences.