Domino is a game in which players place domino pieces on end, creating long lines. One domino is then tipped over, causing the rest of the line to fall in a rhythmic cascade. This is the concept that inspired the phrase “domino effect,” which refers to any action that has larger–and sometimes catastrophic–consequences than the initial cause. Whether you are composing your novel off the cuff or carefully planning out every plot beat, thinking of your story in terms of the domino effect will help to ensure that your scenes have enough “dominoes” and enough impact.
Physicist Stephen Morris says that the reason why dominoes fall in such an impressive way is that gravity is what holds them together. Without gravity, they would just fall in an unruly way that wouldn’t be as exciting to watch. He says that if you want your scene to have the domino effect, it is important to have a clear, concise explanation of what is happening and why. It is also important to have a clear goal for the scene, and for your character to be at the point where it makes sense to achieve that goal.
The most common domino sets have 28 tiles that are arranged in two suits of numbers. Each domino has dots or pips that identify its suit. Each suit has six tiles that feature all different numbers, as well as four blank or 0 tiles. A pips match between two dominoes is called a “laydown.”
To play the game, one player picks up a domino and places it in front of them. Then they choose a tile from the boneyard that has matching numbers to the domino they just laid down. The first player to successfully complete a layout wins that round and play passes to the other player.
There are many ways to create complex and beautiful domino constructions. A lot of these are made with paper, but some are also made out of natural materials such as stone (e.g., marble or granite); other woods (e.g., ebony); metals (e.g., brass or pewter); ceramic clay; and other non-porous materials such as frosted glass or crystal. In addition to these materials, dominoes can be manufactured from plastic, too.
Regardless of the material used, the most important thing is that a domino construction has to be in the right order for it to work. Dominoes need to be properly spaced if they are going to cascade together in a nice, smooth sequence that will be pleasing for viewers. Similarly, stories need scenes that move the hero closer or farther from his or her goal and that have a pace that is easy to follow. Too long a scene and it can feel slow or draggy; too short, and it will lack momentum at important points in the story. It is a delicate balance that requires careful attention and practice to get just right.