The Domino Effect
A domino is a small rectangular wood or plastic block with a line down its center separating the two ends, each end marked with a pattern of dots that resembles those on dice. Like playing cards and chess pieces, dominoes can be used in a variety of games. When one domino is knocked over, it triggers a chain reaction that continues until the last remaining domino falls.
A chain reaction occurs because the energy released by one domino is transferred to adjacent dominoes through friction. This energy is converted into heat and sound, and the resulting vibrations cause the next domino to move. The movement of the first domino sets off a chain reaction, which can continue for as long as there are available dominoes to push.
Dominoes can also be used to create beautiful, eye-catching sculptures. Known as a “domino art,” these displays are admired for their skill and beauty. Artists can set up a line of thousands of dominoes in precise sequence, each domino just a hair’s breadth away from its neighbor. Domino artists, such as Lily Hevesh, a professional domino artist who has gained popularity on YouTube, often perform their domino shows in front of live audiences.
The earliest versions of dominoes developed in China in the 1300s, and they were functionally similar to playing cards. The dominoes had a line down the center, dividing the domino into two squares. Each side of the squares was adorned with an arrangement of spots, or “pips,” that corresponded to the results of throwing six-sided dice. The pips on each domino were either blank or marked with numbers from one to six. Today’s domino sets usually have a maximum of nine pips per end, although larger sets exist.
In writing, each scene in a story is like a domino that is ineffective by itself but is part of a larger chain reaction. Each domino in a story must have logical impact on the scenes that follow it, so they can build toward a satisfying conclusion for readers. If a scene runs counter to what most readers think is logical, the domino effect may fail to build tension or interest in the story.
For example, if the hero in a mystery story shoots an unarmed person, the next scene must explain why that action is logical or provide an explanation for why the hero’s actions do not run counter to societal norms. Without this logic, the reader may not be convinced that the hero should be allowed to continue acting as he or she does. This is the reason why it is important for writers to plot their stories using an outline or a program such as Scrivener that will help weed out scenes that don’t advance the story or provide enough logical impact on the scene before it.