A Writer’s Guide to the Domino Effect

The word domino comes from the Latin for “flip” and refers to the way a single piece can flip over countless others. The effect is visually spectacular, but it’s also a good metaphor for the way any action in a story can set off a chain reaction of other actions. Whether you’re a writer who pens your manuscript off the cuff or uses a detailed outline, examining the domino effect can help you make sure that every plot beat is meaningful and has the right impact.

Domino is a game played with rectangular blocks of rigid material (often wood or bone) that are marked on one face with an arrangement of dots, similar to those on a die, and blank or identically patterned on the other face. These markings, called pips, are what give each domino its identity.

Traditionally, dominoes were made of a combination of natural materials such as silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother-of-pearl, MOP), ivory, and ebony; more recently they have been produced in plastic and other synthetic substances. They are normally twice as long as wide, so that they can be stacked neatly together.

The individual dominoes are arranged into sets for use in different games. The most common are the double-6, double-9, and double-15 sets. Each has its own rules for play, and these may differ from one another. In general, players take turns laying a domino in front of them on the table. A domino must be placed so that its two matching ends touch, unless it is a double.

Once all the dominoes are positioned, the player can start a chain by pushing a piece into its gap. The rest of the pieces in the row then fall into place, and the sequence continues. The last piece must be positioned so that it is touching the exposed end of the first tile.

Most domino games involve emptying a player’s hand while blocking opponents’ play. However, there are many other variants, including scoring games such as bergen and muggins that count the number of pips in a losing player’s remaining dominoes. There are even duplicate card games such as matador, and Mexican train.

As the chain progresses, it may develop a snake-like shape, or a line that runs along the floor. The shape of a chain is entirely dependent on the choices of the players and limitations of the playing surface. The end result is a satisfying display of skill and imagination. It’s no wonder that domino is such a popular pastime! It’s fun for people of all ages and backgrounds to try their hand at this exciting game.