The Domino Effect

Domino is a set of a small, rectangular tiles marked with a zigzag pattern of dots and one blank or identically patterned side. These pieces can be stacked end to end in long lines. When a domino is tipped over, its spots transfer potential energy to the next domino in the line, which causes that domino to tip, and so on, in a chain reaction that can continue for many turns. This concept is the origin of the phrase domino effect, which describes any event that leads to a larger-than-expected consequence.

Dominoes are used for games of chance and skill, as well as to teach math and counting skills. Most domino games involve emptying an opponent’s hand or blocking their play, but some, such as bergen and muggins, determine points and help with number recognition and calculation. Some of these games are also adaptations of card games. In addition, a domino game called Concentration helps develop visual memory.

Some large domino sets have more than twenty-six matching tiles, but the most common are double-twelve (91 tiles), double-nine (55 tiles), and double-15 (136 tiles). In these large sets, each tile has two alternating sides, and each side is identified by an arrangement of dots, or pips, similar to those on a die, except that some squares are blank (indicated in the listing below by a zero).

The Domino Effect

We’re all familiar with the sight of hundreds of individual dominoes arranged in careful sequence, ready to topple over with the slightest nudge. The physics of this is fascinating: as the first domino falls, it transfers its potential energy to the next domino in line, which then transfers some of its own energy to the next, and so on until every last domino has fallen. Domino builders are known to spend days or even weeks constructing elaborate domino reactions and effects, and some even compete in a show where they build a spectacular sequence before an audience of fans.

When writing your novel, it can be helpful to think of each plot beat as a domino. Each action should lead to a greater-than-expected consequence, just like the dominoes in a domino effect. Whether you write your manuscript off the cuff or use a carefully structured outline, considering how each plot element could be a domino in a chain reaction can help you create an exciting and compelling narrative. In fact, the entire process of creating a novel is a little bit like setting up a domino table: the key is knowing which pieces to put down and where to start. So, next time you’re preparing to begin your story, consider the domino effect—it can make all the difference.