WONDER of the Day: The Domino Effect


When a domino is tipped ever-so-slightly, the rest of them fall in a rhythmic cascade. This is known as the Domino Effect. This week’s WONDER of the Day focuses on the power of this phenomenon.

A domino is a small rectangular piece of wood or cardboard that is marked with one or more dots. One face of each domino is marked with an arrangement of these dots, similar to the markings on a die. The other face is blank or identically patterned. Dominoes are used in a variety of games to score points and build arrangements that can be admired for their beauty.

Dominoes are also often used as toys and components in Rube Goldberg machines. In addition, they are widely available in toy stores and online. Many children like to stack the pieces on end in long lines. If the first domino is tipped, it causes the rest of the line to tip over, and so on until all the dominoes are toppled.

The game of domino is popular in many parts of the world, and there are a number of different rules for playing the game. The most common set consists of 28 tiles, and it is played by two or more players. Some games may require more than 28 dominoes.

In some games, the players alternate picking dominoes from their hand until someone has an “opening” double, such as a six-five or a seven-four. The player who picks the highest domino in that suit leads, and subsequent players must follow that leader by laying their own higher-valued tiles in order to continue the sequence.

A professional domino artist named Hevesh has built impressive displays for films, television shows, and events. Her YouTube channel features videos of her work, and she has even helped to set a Guinness record for the most dominoes in a circular arrangement. Her largest installations take several nail-biting minutes to fall.

Whether you are a plotter who writes an outline before beginning your manuscript or you prefer to write by the seat of your pants, you can use the domino analogy as an aid in creating a clear and compelling story. The key is to think about what your story needs, and how that will affect the next scene.

If a character uncovers an important clue in one scene, but the next scene fails to raise the tension, it is likely that the scene is not doing its job. You can weed out scenes that aren’t advancing the plot by considering their impact on the scene before and after it.

The Domino Effect is powerful, and it can have a positive or a negative impact on an individual or organization. The same is true for writing. Whether you are a plotter who uses tools such as Scrivener or a more spontaneous approach, you can use the Domino Effect to create a clear and engaging story.