The Domino Effect and Why Plotting Your Novel is So Important

Domino, the game of falling pieces that trigger a chain reaction, can be seen as a metaphor for several areas of life. The domino effect can refer to a physical phenomenon (like a car crash or a rocket launch) or to a causal linkage within complex systems like global finance or politics. This theory of cause and effect also applies to our personal lives. A change in one behavior can cause a shift in related behaviors—like cutting back on sedentary leisure time leading to healthier eating habits. The Domino Effect is why plotting your novel is so important.

Whether you compose your manuscript off the cuff or take your time with a careful outline, the process of writing comes down to one question: What happens next? A well-crafted novel answers this question by building tension as each new event, character or scene takes the story in a different direction. Plotting is about the progression of events in your novel, so it’s important to think about how each scene will affect your reader and build toward the climax.

When one domino falls over, much of its potential energy converts to kinetic energy, the kind of energy that moves things forward. The energy then travels to the next domino, pushing it over as well. This process continues until the last domino falls. In the same way, a single plot beat can set off a whole series of actions that lead to a satisfying conclusion for your readers.

A typical domino set contains 28 unique pieces—one for each possible combination of two ends with zero to six spots. In addition to the traditional pieces, some sets use blank or double-blank ends that can be counted as either one or two (a double-6 counts as 12). Larger domino sets can go up to double-18 and include special tiles with larger pips for scoring games such as concentration.

Domino’s leadership structure is very strong and effective. Their CEO, Dominick “Dom” Schnatter, is known for his commitment to listen to employees. This was evident in the Undercover Boss series, where Dom goes undercover to work at several stores and see how the staff handles deliveries and customer complaints. He has made it a priority to implement changes that he hears about from his team, and it appears to be working.

Technology is a big part of Domino’s strategy, and they are constantly innovating to stay ahead of the competition. Their World Resource Center in Ann Arbor focuses on cross-functional teams that work together to create and test new technologies for the company. Their latest invention, a pizza ordering app that works through the Apple CarPlay system in your smartphone, is a good example of how they’re staying on the cutting edge of their industry.

Hevesh is an engineer by training, so when she makes a mind-blowing domino setup, she starts out by testing out the individual parts of each section. She then films the results so she can make precise corrections. She builds the larger 3-D sections first, followed by flat arrangements and finally lines of dominos that connect each section to each other.