Domino, (also dominoes and dominators) is a generic term for small rectangular blocks that can be used to play a wide variety of games. Generally 28 such pieces make up a complete set. A domino has a blank or dotted surface, and one side is marked with numbers or dots corresponding to those on dice. When a domino is toppled, it triggers an all-or-none sequence of events that spread out from the point where it was triggered, much like a nerve impulse firing through axons in the brain.
In general, domino sets consist of either double-six or double-nine tiles, although larger sets do exist. The number of tiles in a set determines how many players can participate, as does the game type. Most domino games fall into two categories: blocking games and scoring games. Blocking games require that a player must empty his or her hand before an opponent can play. Scored games award points based on the total of a player’s remaining dominoes at the end of a round.
Using a domino set, a person can create straight lines, curved lines, patterned grids that form pictures when they fall, stacked walls, and even 3D structures. Creating such an arrangement requires planning ahead, which is why Hevesh creates a test version of each section of her installations before she puts them together. She also films the tests in slow motion, which allows her to make precise adjustments if needed.
Hevesh also has a popular YouTube channel, where she posts videos of her domino constructions. In her videos, she explains that a key lesson in domino art is to “learn to plan out your design before you start working.” She also suggests that a good way to practice predicting the path of a domino chain is to use a piece of paper to draw out a sequence of tiles in a pattern and then test them by placing them on it.
Another person who is adept at domino construction is Nick Doyle, a self-taught woodworker from Pennsylvania. He developed a technique for making dominoes that uses tools already in his home workshop, such as a drill press, radial arm saw, scroll saw, and belt sander. He even made a purpose-built Domino’s delivery vehicle—the cheese lover’s Batmobile, perhaps—that could transport 80 pizzas.
When writing fiction, it can help to think of plot beats in terms of the domino effect. The concept is simple: Think of each element in your story as a single domino that can be tipped ever-so-slightly to cause the next domino in the line to fall. This domino effect can be used to build tension and create exciting action in your story. You can even use it to show how a character’s choices can affect the outcome of an event. So, the next time you need to write a scene in which your character must choose between several options, consider how each of those decisions will ripple outward.