Writing About Dominoes

Domino is a game in which players place dominoes on a table. Each domino has a number showing on one end and is blank or patterned on the other end. When a player has a domino with the matching numbers, he or she places it on the table and continues playing until each hand is completed. The first player to play all of his or her tiles wins the hand. The players must be careful not to hold back any playable dominoes for strategic reasons.

The word domino also refers to a series of similar or related events. The term can be used literally to describe a sequence of physical impacts or metaphorically to refer to causal links within a system.

When the first domino is pushed over, it starts a chain reaction that causes the others to fall over in turn. This occurs because the impulse that caused the domino to fall travels at a constant speed without losing energy. It is much like the electrical pulse that runs down a nerve fiber in your body.

Physicist Lorne Whitehead of the University of British Columbia demonstrated the true power of the domino effect in a 1983 video. He set up 13 dominoes—one as small as a Tic Tac and another more than three feet tall. Each domino was arranged to be a perfect fit for the next. Then he flipped the first domino over. The rest of the dominoes fell perfectly into place.

This domino effect is an excellent metaphor for a story’s logic. If a character takes an action that is against societal norms, the story must offer readers enough logic and motivation to give them permission to accept that behavior as normal. Otherwise, the scene will fail because it will not be a natural fit for the reader.

As a result, writers must carefully consider each domino in a scene to make sure it fits well with the other dominoes and their effects. In addition, the writer must carefully consider what happens after the domino’s impact. If the next scene is too far down the line to be relevant, the domino effect will fail.

Dominoes are most often played with a set of dominoes that contains at least double-twelve (91 tiles) or double-nine (55 tiles). There are several ways to play the game and each way involves a different combination of pieces. However, the basic rule remains the same: Each domino is a square and each side has an identifying pattern of dots or spots. Each side has a number, ranging from six pips on the largest domino to none or blank on the smallest. The value of each side is its rank, or weight. The weight of a domino is determined by the sum of its pips or ranks. It is not uncommon for a player to have multiple hands before winning the game. The winner of a hand is awarded the next dominoes that are available to be picked from the stock.