The Domino Effect in Writing

Dominoes are small, flat, rectangular blocks used as gaming pieces. They are made of rigid material and vary in color and design. Traditionally, dominoes were made of bone or silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl) with black or white pips inlaid or painted on. More recently, sets have been made from other natural materials such as marble, granite, soapstone or woods like oak and cherry; metals such as brass and pewter; or ceramic clay. Many domino sets are still manufactured in Europe using traditional methods that have been in place for centuries. These materials and the resulting products are often more expensive than those manufactured from polymer resins, but many people prefer their feel and weight to the lighter weight of plastic.

Dominoes hold cultural significance across various societies, serving as a unifying force that transcends linguistic and geographic boundaries. Whether in bustling city squares or quiet village homes, the game fosters camaraderie and bonding among players. In this way, dominoes can serve as a metaphor for the resiliency of human beings and their innate desire to connect with one another.

In writing, the domino effect is an important principle to understand in order to create a strong plot. Each scene in a story, whether in fiction or nonfiction, is a domino that impacts the next scene. Unlike the physical domino that must touch each other in a row to fall, a scene domino can be anywhere in the story and affect the next scene no matter where it is located. This is how a story’s plot can become predictable and logical.

For example, if a character in a scene feels depressed and decides to go to the beach alone, that decision could lead to an argument with their best friend or a fight with their parent. In turn, this conflict may affect how the other characters in the scene react to the situation and ultimately affect how it ends. These changes are called the domino effect because they happen one after the other in a chain reaction like the falling of a series of dominoes.

This concept is also used in the business world to explain what some call “The Domino Theory.” This theory suggests that a change in one country in the former communist countries, such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, will cause the rest of the country’s to fall, and then those countries will continue to fall until there is no more communist influence.

When creating her mind-blowing domino installations, Hevesh uses a version of the engineering-design process to ensure that each piece works. First, she tests each section separately to make sure it is a complete and functional unit. Then she puts the pieces together starting with the largest 3-D sections, followed by flat arrangements and finally lines of dominoes that connect each section to the others.

In addition to demonstrating the commutative property of addition, this task helps students see that a domino is the same no matter how it is oriented. This can help students bridge the gap between manipulating moveable objects such as cubes and using symbolic representations such as numbers and equations on a computer.