How to Use the Domino Effect to Plot a Novel

Domino is a game that involves placing small wooden blocks, sometimes called dominoes or dots, on a surface and then attempting to set them all in a line by sliding one over another. The resulting sequences can be simple, like one tile touching another, or very elaborate, with multiple dominoes arranged in a complex pattern. A domino may have a number of points or blank on both sides, with the higher numbers being referred to as “heavies” and lower ones being referred to as “blanks.” A domino that has a value on both ends is a double; the sum of the values is what gives it its rank.

In a business setting, domino can refer to a process that creates a chain reaction of events that lead to success or failure. In the case of a company, it can be an established brand, or a new project that has the potential to make or break a business.

When it comes to writing, the domino effect can be used to plot a story in a way that is both interesting and effective. Whether you write off the cuff or take your time with a careful outline, plotting a novel ultimately comes down to one question: What happens next? Considering how to use the domino effect in your story will help you answer this question in a captivating way.

A domino is a small rectangular wood or plastic block, usually twice as long as it is wide. The domino features a line in the center to divide it visually into two squares, with each end displaying a number of dots, or pips, which range from six down to none or blank. A domino is ranked by the number of pips on each end and may be a double, meaning that it has the same value on both sides, or it could be a single, meaning that only the right-most side has a number.

The word domino is derived from a Latin word, denominium, that means “head” or “control.” While the game of dominoes has become an iconic part of American culture, the word itself is not as well known outside of linguistics circles. In English, the word largely entered the language in the 1750s and was likely inspired by its French equivalent, domino, which referred to a hooded cloak worn together with a mask at a carnival or masquerade ball.

Professional domino artist Lily Hevesh, who has created amazing setups that include hundreds of thousands of dominoes, credits one physical phenomenon in particular for her success. Hevesh says that gravity is the key ingredient to a great domino setup. She explains that the force of gravity pulls a fallen domino toward the ground, causing it to then impact the rest of the set. This in turn creates a domino effect that continues to build upon itself. As a result, Hevesh’s creations can take several nail-biting minutes for the entire arrangement to complete.