The Domino Effect

A domino is a small rectangular wood or plastic block, with one side blank or marked with an arrangement of spots like those on dice. The word comes from the Latin for “fall upon” and can refer to a series of events that lead to greater — or even catastrophic — consequences, as in “the Domino effect.” It can also mean a game played with these blocks, which can be stacked on end in long lines to form elaborate structures or even 3D shapes. They can also be used to make designs and patterns. When a domino is tipped over, it causes the next piece in the line to tip over and so on, creating an amazing array of intricate patterns.

The most common domino sets have 28 tiles, and each tile has either a number or a blank side. The numbers on the ends of the tiles form suits—one set has a suit of threes, another of fours, and so forth—and each suit contains a different color. Most people play games that involve laying dominoes in rows or columns, with the winner being the player who has the most pieces remaining when the game ends.

Some games feature dominoes that can be set up in complex shapes, such as circles or hearts, and then the players must try to place their pieces so they cover all of the spaces on the edge of the shape. Other games require players to build towers or pyramids with dominoes, and the best ones can be quite tall. The most elaborate domino designs are often the work of professional builders, who compete at events called domino shows.

Dominoes can also be used to make art, and the artist who creates such creations is known as a domino designer. She plans out her design on a grid or sheet of paper, marking the way she wants the dominoes to fall. Then she constructs the structure, starting with the longest, most 3-D sections first. She builds each section in stages, testing it for proper function before moving on to the next part of her design.

Plotting a novel can be compared to arranging dominoes, and it is crucial for writers to consider the domino effect in their writing. This means that they must think about how their character’s actions will affect the scene before it and the scene after it. If they write a scene that runs counter to what readers think is logical, they run the risk of losing their reader’s interest.

Whether you are a pantser (a writer who writes without an outline) or a plotter (a writer who uses an outline program such as Scrivener), it is important to consider the domino effect in your writing. A successful story requires a solid framework of scenes that are logical and have enough momentum to keep readers engaged. For example, if a hero does something immoral, the author must provide logic for why that character is taking such an action or risk losing the reader’s sympathy or admiration.