The Domino Effect

Dominoes are small rectangular blocks used as game pieces. They are often referred to as bones, pieces, men, or cards and can be made of ivory, bone, wood, plastic, or polymer clay. They are usually twice as long as they are wide and have a line in the middle dividing them into two squares with markings, or pips, that range from blank or no pips to six pips. The number of pips on each side determines the value of the domino. A domino with more pips is usually considered to be heavier than a lighter domino with fewer pips.

The term domino is also used metaphorically to describe a series of events that start with one simple action and then cause much larger–and sometimes catastrophic–consequences. For example, an event or action could cause a car crash that then causes a traffic jam that leads to people running out of gas and ultimately stranding everyone on the side of the road. This type of chain reaction is known as the domino effect.

Whether you’re using the term to describe an actual physical chain reaction or an emotional chain reaction, it’s important for writers to understand how this concept can be applied to their own work. In writing, it’s essential to get all of the story dominoes in a row so that readers can follow the progression smoothly from beginning to end. This is why I encourage my clients to treat every plot beat as a domino.

When Hevesh creates her mind-blowing domino setups, she follows a version of the engineering design process. She starts by considering a theme or purpose for an installation and then brainstorms images or words that might go with it. Next, she tests out each section individually before putting them all together. This allows her to make precise corrections if something doesn’t work. Finally, she begins adding the largest 3-D sections and then moving to flat arrangements.

While a domino set is usually used for games, it can also be used for art projects and to teach science and math. For example, an artist can use dominoes to create patterns, or she could use them to build a sculpture that represents some mathematical equation. A physics teacher could even use dominoes to demonstrate how an object’s size depends on the amount of force that is applied to it.

The most common domino game for two players is called double-six. Each player draws seven tiles at the start of gameplay and then places them on-edge in front of them. The dominoes in each hand are then matched to one another and played so that the highest numbered domino in any player’s hands, or an opening double (such as a 6-6), is revealed. The player who scores the most points in a specified number of rounds wins. In some variants, the number of pips on an opponent’s tiles can count as points (e.g., a 6-6 counts as 12). Other rule variations may apply.