The Domino Effect in Writing and Playing Dominoes

Gambling Blog Oct 23, 2023

A small rectangular block used as gaming objects, usually made of wood or plastic and marked with pips resembling those on dice. Dominoes are also called bones, pieces, men, or stones.

As a child, Lily Hevesh loved arranging dominoes in straight or curved lines and then flicking the first one over. Now she creates mind-blowing domino art for TV shows, movies, and events—and her YouTube channel has more than 2 million subscribers. Hevesh uses a version of the engineering-design process to create her stunning setups. Before she builds a single piece, Hevesh tests its motion by putting it on the table and pushing it around. She then adds smaller pieces to form the larger sections until everything fits perfectly and works as intended.

For Hevesh, the process isn’t just about figuring out how to construct her setups; it’s also about understanding how the scene dominoes interact with each other to drive the story forward. For example, if a character is exposed to something that causes her to change her behavior, that change will automatically affect the next scene, just as the changing of a single domino naturally impacts other dominoes in the line. This principle is known as the domino effect.

Dominoes are a common symbol for business and organizational change, because they illustrate the way that one action triggers an entire chain reaction. The domino effect can also be applied to writing. Changing one scene can have an impact on the entire book. For example, if a character gets a lead on a new case, that will likely spur her to investigate other leads and develop an overall plot plan. Likewise, if the protagonist is introduced to a potential love interest in one scene, that could have an impact on the plot in the following scenes.

In a game of domino, players try to be the first player to reach a set number—usually 61—by playing a domino that matches an open end with a previous tile. A point is scored for each domino that has a number showing on both its ends, with doubles counting twice.

A more challenging variation is to attempt to play a domino that will cause all the other tiles to be placed in a certain order—normally, with the lowest total of points possible. This is sometimes called a “sticky”. The first player to do so wins the hand. Normally, the game continues until either a player can’t continue (and “chips out”) or until it reaches a point at which no player can advance. Then the game ends, with the winner being the player whose remaining dominoes have the least combined number of pips. The game can also end by a draw, which occurs when no player has any more dominoes to play.