How Dominoes Work


A domino is a tile marked with spots or blanks that are similar to those on a die. Usually, dominoes are set up in long lines and, when the first domino is tipped over, it triggers a series of events that ends with all the other dominoes toppling over. Some people build complex domino sculptures. Dominoes are also a common toy for children. Dominoes are often used to play games of skill and chance, such as a simple game of dominoes, or in contests where builders attempt to create the most impressive domino effect or reaction before an audience.

When dominoes are set up in a carefully designed sequence, they can form pictures and structures like towers and pyramids. One artist, Hevesh, creates incredible domino art with thousands of pieces. Her largest creations take several nail-biting minutes to fall, a process that is dictated by the laws of physics.

Hevesh explains that the main force that dictates how her creations work is gravity. The weight of the entire assembly pulls each domino toward the ground. As it falls, each domino will push on the next domino until the entire chain reaction comes to a stop.

The same principle works in a narrative, where the pace and action of scenes can influence the overall flow of a story. If a writer doesn’t plan her scenes out, or doesn’t use a tool such as Scrivener to help with the organization of plot, she will likely end up with a story that has scenes that don’t flow together well. A story without clear, logical dominoes will be frustrating to read.

When a writer creates her story structure using a detailed outline, she can be sure that each scene will contribute to the overall momentum of the story. As she writes her manuscript, she can think of each scene as a domino that must fall to lead to the final climax. Those scenes will then be arranged in the most effective way possible, with each one leading to the next scene in a smooth, continuous action that builds until the big finale.

Whenever we are faced with a daunting task, such as trying a new habit or taking on a goal, we can draw inspiration from the example of the domino effect. Creating the sequence of scenes that will lead to your success can be as easy as stacking a few tiles. Just be careful not to knock over any of the important pieces.