# The Domino Effect

Gambling Nov 28, 2023

If you’ve ever watched someone construct a domino chain and watch it cascade into a beautiful, rhythmic pattern, you might have heard of something called the “domino effect.” This term refers to any sequence of events that starts out small but leads to much greater–and sometimes catastrophic–consequences. Often it can be traced back to one single action, which leads to a series of actions that compound and escalate. It’s the same concept that can be applied to writing, and it’s a helpful way to think about story structure.

A domino is a flat, thumbsized, rectangular block of wood or other material bearing from one to six pips (or dots) or blanks. A complete set contains 28 such tiles. The name comes from the fact that each piece can be tipped over to start a chain reaction in which other pieces are then tipped over in turn, and so on. The resulting chains can be very elaborate.

Dominos are generally played in groups of two to four players who take turns drawing and placing dominoes on the table. They can either draw tiles randomly, or they may choose to select their own. In either case, they must then place their domino on the table, ensuring that it touches only one end of an already-played tile or a vacant space in the layout. Additional dominoes can then be placed against the open ends of the existing tiles in the layout, but only if the rules allow it.

Most domino games are played with doubles, which have two ends that can be used for connecting additional tiles. Usually, only the long sides of a domino are available for connection, but some games allow for connections at right angles to the existing tiles as well. Adding to this complexity, some games require that all dominoes be played in a certain order.

A University of Toronto physicist has shown that dominoes can knock over objects almost as large as themselves, so their power is certainly not to be underestimated. He says that when a domino is standing upright, it has potential energy because it is held up against gravity’s pull. As soon as that domino is tipped over, however, that potential energy is converted into kinetic energy in the form of falling motion.

Just like dominoes, the scene dominoes in a novel should be spaced properly if they’re going to be successful. A writer needs to ensure that scenes advance the story and provide a sense of momentum, but they also need to be long enough to provide sufficient detail and character development. The key is to strike a balance: scenes that are too short can feel skimpy and rushed, but a scene that is too long will be weighed down by details that could be cut in favor of more immediate or dramatic consequences. That’s why it’s important to have a clear idea of what you want your story to accomplish before you begin to write it.