Whether we line them up in long, careful lines or throw them down with a nudge, dominoes are fascinating. That’s because they illustrate how one simple action can lead to much greater—and often catastrophic—consequences. This is what’s known as the domino effect.
In a domino show, master builders put on amazing displays of domino tricks and reactions before a crowd of fans. They might build an entire city block of dominoes, or they might set up a series of dazzling patterns that take days to complete. But all of them involve the same basic principle: a small step leads to a larger reaction.
Dominoes are small flat rectangular blocks made of rigid material such as wood or bone. They are typically twice as long as they are wide and bear a pattern of dots on one side, called an “identity,” that distinguishes it from blank or identically-patterned sides. These dots are sometimes called pips.
A domino’s value is determined by its total of pips. A double-six domino, for example, has six pips on both ends and thus is valued higher than a double-nine domino that has only five pips on both ends. The value of a domino also depends on its rank or weight, which is equal to the sum of the values of all the pips on its two identity-bearing sides.
Like playing cards, which are a type of domino, dominoes are used for many games. The most popular are scoring games in which players compete to empty their hands. These include bergen, muggins, and chicken foot. Some games are blocking games, in which players attempt to prevent opponents from scoring. Others replicate card games, including double-nine and Mexican train.
A domino set usually consists of 28 tiles. Each piece has a number of spots or pips on its face, which is divided visually into two squares by a ridge. The values on each end of a domino are distinguished from those on the other by a line or a different arrangement of pips.
While most people think of dominoes as toys, they are also an important tool for building and maintaining social order. In a world in which gangs and crime are on the rise, dominoes can help to break down social barriers and make communities safer for everyone.
As a writer, you can use the domino technique to plan your story. As you work through your manuscript, think of each element as a domino that will impact another, then connect those pieces with the larger plot in the way that they deserve.
To create a beautiful installation of domino, a builder first tests each part to make sure it works. She might even film each section individually in slow motion so she can fine-tune the design when necessary. After she’s satisfied with her results, she then brings it all together. Just as each individual domino contributes to the overall result, each element in your manuscript should add up to something significant.