The Domino Effect in Fiction and Nonfiction

When a domino falls, much of its potential energy converts to kinetic energy, the energy of motion, which is transmitted to the next domino and provides the push it needs to tip over. This process continues until the last domino has fallen, completing the chain reaction that is the Domino Effect.

A domino is a small rectangular block, thumb-sized and marked with an arrangement of spots or “pips” resembling those on dice. One side of the domino is blank; the other contains a pattern of dots that distinguishes it from other tiles in the same set. A complete set of dominoes has 28 such pieces.

Dominoes are used in a variety of games, most commonly as a form of chance and/or strategy. A domino game is won by a player who amasses the most points in a given number of rounds. Points are awarded for each tile laid end to end, with matching ends (i.e., a six-sided domino must touch another six-sided domino, or two four-sided dominoes must touch each other). A double-blank may count as one or two; a double-6, for example, counts as either 6 or 12.

Some games require that the players agree on a target score or a number of rounds before beginning play. Others award points for each completed line of dominoes. The first player to reach this score or number of rounds wins the game.

In a narrative, the domino effect is the way in which a single event triggers a series of other events—or a “domino cascade.” It can occur in both fiction and nonfiction, but it’s especially important to understand how to create this type of narrative momentum in fiction. A writer’s goal should be to build a chain of events that makes sense to readers. If the story’s logic goes against what most people think is logical, it will fail to resonate with readers.

A successful domino effect will have a large impact on the reader, so it’s important to plan out the domino track before beginning. A writer should also be sure to understand how the dominoes will fall, which means determining which types of pieces are going to be used for each track. This will help the writer develop a narrative flow that will be interesting and exciting for the reader. For example, using a curved line of dominoes can make an interesting track that leads to an unexpected twist at the end of the scene. Creating a 3D structure such as a tower or pyramid can also be an effective domino track. Using the right track will ensure that the dominoes fall in the right direction and lead to a dramatic effect when they’re finally tipped over. This type of track can also be used for creating a picture or an inscription.