The Domino Effect for Writers
Domino is a small flat block with one face bearing from one to six dots or spots and the other blank or identically patterned. A domino is normally twice as long as it is wide. A domino set is a collection of matching dominoes. The term also refers to any of several games played with such blocks, in which a domino is placed edge to edge against another in order to form a line or angular pattern. A domino may also be used as a counter in place of a die in certain games, particularly those that involve blocking or scoring.
The concept of the domino effect is useful for writers because it provides a framework to think about how a story unfolds. Whether you’re a pantser or plot your novel using outlines, the success of your scene relies on the logic of what comes before it and what happens next. Considering how each scene should cascade helps you ensure that the logical chain of events is clear for your readers.
To illustrate the domino effect, let’s imagine a group of fifty thousand individual dominoes standing in a row on a table. As long as each domino is upright, the chain won’t fall until someone flips it over. Then the rest of the dominoes will fall one by one until the entire stack collapses. In the same way, it’s possible to write a novel with an exciting beginning but with no logical end. If you want your readers to keep turning the pages, the sequence of scenes must follow a logical path that takes your hero where they need to go.
If your characters’ actions run against societal norms, it’s important that you provide the logic that allows them to do so. Otherwise, your reader may lose confidence in your hero. For example, if the hero shoots a stranger or has an affair, you must show readers why this is OK to make them feel like they can still trust the hero.
While Domino is often associated with polymer dominoes, it has been made from a variety of materials including bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother-of-pearl), ivory and ebony. Natural material sets are often a little heavier and more expensive than those of polymer, but they can be aesthetically more appealing, and may feel more substantial in the hand. They are typically carved in a style that is meant to resemble dice. Larger sets than the traditional 28-piece Western domino set are made by introducing ends with additional numbers of pips. The most common extended sets are double-twelve, double-15 and double-18.