How Dominoes Work

A domino is a flat, thumb-sized, rectangular block with a line down its center that visually divides it into two square ends, each either blank or bearing from one to six pips (or dots): 28 such pieces form a complete set. Dominoes are also called bones, cards, men or pieces, and they can be used for a variety of games. The most common is a simple blocking game in which each player takes turns placing a domino on the table. If the player cannot play his or her domino, he or she “knocks” the table and play passes to the next person. A knocked domino must remain on the table until a player can play it.

When a domino is standing upright, it has potential energy; that is, its position has an accumulated value based on the number of pips it bears. But when it is knocked over, most of this potential energy is converted into kinetic energy as it falls and crashes onto the next domino. The result is a beautiful cascade of rhythmic motion.

If a domino is placed incorrectly, the entire sequence of events can be disrupted and the end result may be a mess that requires extensive cleanup. It is important to understand how a domino works before you can use it correctly.

The same can be said about writing: if you write scenes that aren’t logically connected to the scene before it, or if they run against what most readers think is logical, your story will likely be confusing for them. Think of the domino effect as a guide when you’re plotting your novel.

To be successful, your scene must have a clear beginning, middle and end. The first scene should clearly state what the character will do or achieve. The next scene must show the consequences of that action, and the final scene should show how the character’s actions have impacted everyone around him or her.

For example, if a character is trying to get a job but can’t find one, the first scene might begin with her going to an interview. The second scene might show her getting hired. And the third scene might involve her working with coworkers to accomplish a task.

The fourth scene could show her looking for an apartment, and the fifth scene might reveal that she found a place to rent. Finally, the sixth scene might demonstrate her moving into the new apartment. Having these scenes connect to each other will help readers follow the story’s logic and make it more interesting for them to read.