The Domino Effect in Writing

When a domino hits its target, it sets off a chain reaction that can result in an amazing display of power and beauty. Hevesh’s creations can contain thousands of individual dominoes, and she sometimes takes several nail-biting minutes to wait for them to fall. She’s also worked on team projects that include 300,000 dominoes and helped to set a Guinness record for the most dominoes in a circular pattern.

Dominoes are small tiles with a number of dots, or pip marks, on each face. They’re used to play a variety of games that involve stacking them end to end in long, straight lines. When one of these is tipped, it causes the next domino to tip over and so on, until the entire line collapses. Some people even use them to create artistic arrangements, like a chain-reaction waterfall or pyramid.

The word “domino” comes from the Latin dominus, meaning “lord.” It’s an apt name for a game that encourages careful consideration of cause and effect. When a domino is tipped over, the potential energy it stored in its unsteady position becomes available for other purposes. It can move other dominoes, or it may be transferred to another object, such as a person.

Domino is also a good metaphor for the way in which we might think about the writing process. Whether we write off the cuff or follow a careful outline, the story we tell ultimately comes down to one question: What happens next? Considering how each scene can have domino-like effects on the next is critical to plotting a novel.

Like dominoes, novels come in many shapes and sizes. Some are purely fictional, while others are true-to-life stories about real events or historical figures. Regardless of their genre, however, all stories must have an underlying plot that provides an interesting, relatable structure for the characters to inhabit.

As a writer, it’s important to consider the “domino effect.” The first time a reader encounters your character, how does he or she react? What impact does it have on the character’s later actions and relationships? How can you use the domino effect to make your story more compelling and believable?

Domino games are played all over the world, with the most popular being a form of solitaire called “Strip Domino” and a variant called “Flip-Over.” These are both played using double-twelve or double-nine sets of dominoes. In the latter, each player picks 12 tiles at the beginning of the game, and then matches them with other dominoes by touching the exposed ends (i.e., a one’s touch a two’s). If the tiles match, the player scores points by counting the number of total domino dots on the matching tiles.

While dominoes are usually made of plastic or other polymer materials, they’ve also been crafted from various natural substances. Historically, they’ve been made of bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl or MOP), ivory, or dark hardwoods such as ebony. Some sets feature the upper half thickness in MOP or ivory and the lower portion in a dark wood, with contrasting black or white pips.