The Domino Effect

Whether you compose your manuscript off the cuff or use a careful outline, plotting your story comes down to one question: what happens next? And the best way to answer that is with the domino effect. The phrase describes actions that lead to much greater and sometimes catastrophic results, just like the chain reaction of a domino rally. But the domino effect isn’t just about a series of events; it’s also a figurative way to describe any action that triggers other related activities. This concept has been used by writers and speakers since the 18th century.

Domino (noun):

A small rectangular block of wood or plastic, the face of which is divided into two parts and bears from one to six spots resembling those on dice. A complete set of dominoes has 28 pieces, and each piece can be identified by its unique combination of ends that may include either blanks or dots; the number of pips on each end determines which suit the piece belongs to.

There are many different games that can be played with a set of dominoes. One of the most common involves a player placing a domino edge to edge against another, so that the adjacent faces are either identical or form some other specified total. Other types of games involve a player or more players selecting and placing dominoes in lines or angular patterns.

Most domino sets are arranged into suits, with each suit containing a specific number of tiles. A tile that features all six pips belongs to the suit of sixes; a tile with only five pips belongs to the suit of fives; and a blank-ended tile belongs to the suit of zeros. Traditionally, the most common domino sets have been double-sixes with 28 tiles. However, larger sets have been produced, such as the double-twelve and double-nine, with 91 or 55 tiles respectively.

In addition to games, dominoes are often used as decorative items for display, and their shape can be manipulated into intricate designs. They can also be arranged to form letters and words, as in the game of Scrabble.

The word domino is an old Italian word, and it originally referred to a long hooded cloak worn by a masquerade or carnival attendant. It has been suggested that the name Domino is an homage to the hooded cloak’s ability to sweep all other costumes out of its path in a kind of domino cascade. In contemporary English, the word is often shortened to just Domino. The most common color of dominoes is white with black pips, but they can be made in any color or even with other coloured pips. Historically, dominoes have been made from a variety of natural materials, such as bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, or dark hardwoods such as ebony. They have also been crafted from polymer and ceramic clay. More recently, sets have been produced from exotic stones such as marble and granite; metals such as brass or pewter; and glass or crystal.