Domino is a game piece used in a variety of games. The pieces are arranged on end in long lines so that when one domino is tipped over it causes the next domino in the line to tip over, and so on. The resulting chain reaction can create very complex designs. This is what has led to the popular phrase, “the domino effect,” which describes a simple action that leads to much larger and often catastrophic consequences.
The word domino derives from the Latin dominium, meaning “fate, fateful.” Domino also refers to a person who is in a position of authority or influence. For example, an individual could be considered a domino in his or her role as president of a country or in business. A government could be considered a domino in its role as sovereign over its territory or as a benevolent overlord to its people.
Domino can also refer to a process, system, or procedure that is triggered by another activity and then spreads from there. For instance, a car crash might be the trigger that starts a domino effect of road closures, which might lead to traffic gridlock and travel chaos.
When it comes to writing, the domino principle can help writers develop their scenes in a way that makes sense and keeps readers engaged. Think of every plot beat in your novel as a domino, and how each element is connected to the other. For example, if your character decides to make his or her bed, it may seem insignificant but it sets the stage for the rest of the scene. If your character decides to keep up with this new habit, it may spread into other areas of his or her life.
Like playing cards, of which they are a variant, dominoes bear identifying marks on one side and are blank or marked with an arrangement of dots that resemble those on dice on the other. The dots on each domino are referred to as “pips.” Dominoes come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with the most common being double six and double nine. Larger sets exist, but they are rare commercially and are usually used to play games with multiple players.
Most dominoes are made from polymer materials such as resin and fiberglass. However, they have been manufactured from other materials, including natural stones (such as marble, granite, or soapstone); woods (including ebony and mahogany); and metals such as brass and pewter. Some dominoes are even made from crystal and frosted glass.
The most important element in creating a domino effect is that the sequence of events be logical and make sense. It can be tempting to rely on momentum and coincidence, but this approach is unlikely to engage or entertain your reader. To write a satisfying domino effect, start with the smallest event possible and build from there. Whether you’re trying to create the illusion of a dramatic accident or the onset of war, you need to set up your characters and setting to explain how these events are related.