The Domino Effect in Fiction Writing

The domino effect is a concept in fiction writing that refers to the way that a single scene or action can have a chain reaction on subsequent scenes. The result can be an epic plot that flows smoothly for the reader from one scene to the next, avoiding hiccups in logic or unanswered questions that might make them stop reading your story. Whether you’re a pantser who writes off the cuff, or use an outline program like Scrivener to help you plot, understanding how the domino effect works can help you build your story with a strong foundation that readers will enjoy following.

A domino is a small rectangular wooden or plastic block, each face of which is divided into two halves and marked with dots resembling those on dice. The half with the most dots is known as the “aces,” while the other is called the “nine.”

In general, dominoes are arranged in a line on a flat surface and each player takes a turn laying a domino tile onto the line so that the exposed ends of the tile touch each other, either end to the left or right of the other domino in the line. Then the number of spots on both the front and back of the tile is counted to determine its value in the game.

There are many different games that can be played with dominoes. Some involve blocking, such as matador and Mexican train, while others are scoring games, such as bergen and muggins. Some are adaptations of card games, and were once popular in some areas to circumvent religious prohibitions against playing cards.

Dominoes can be arranged in straight or curved lines, in grids that form pictures, stacked walls, and even 3D structures such as towers and pyramids. They can be used to illustrate themes in movies and TV shows, or even for special events like celebrity album launches.

A set of dominoes can be enlarged by adding additional tiles that match the ones in the current set with matching pips on both sides. The most common extension sets are double-twelve (91 tiles) and double-nine (55 tiles). Larger sets such as double-twenty-two (253 tiles) might theoretically exist, but they are rarely played with.

While some players choose to play with a full domino set, most prefer to limit the number of dominoes they take. This is because, when the number of dominoes drops to a point where no more tiles can be laid, play stops and the winner is determined by the player with the lowest combined total of the numbers on his remaining dominoes.

When people set up domino lines of hundreds or thousands of dominoes in careful sequence, it is often called domino art. These displays are often used for demonstrations, and in some countries, there are competitions for the most spectacular domino effects or reactions, sometimes in front of live audiences. In this video, Lily Hevesh, a professional domino artist with millions of YouTube subscribers, demonstrates how she creates amazing domino setups that include moving cars and helicopters.