How Dominoes Affect Writing


Domino is a game in which players place dominoes down on a table. The pieces have a unique marking that differentiates them from one another. Some of the most common markings include pips and doubles. Dominoes also come in a variety of shapes and colors. Despite the variety in markings, domino is played primarily with the same set of rules throughout the world.

When Hevesh knocked over a line of dominoes, she didn’t just push one domino down; she unleashed a chain reaction. The physics of the domino effect explains how this happens: When a domino is upright and not being pushed or pulled, it has potential energy based on its position. But when you give it a little nudge, the energy transforms into kinetic energy and causes the domino to fall.

The same principle applies to writing. When you add a scene that doesn’t advance the plot or doesn’t have a clear impact on the scenes ahead of it, you risk disrupting the flow of your story. Think of each scene as a domino that can fall at any moment, but when placed correctly, the chain reaction will continue without a hitch.

A standard domino set has 28 tiles. Larger sets exist for playing longer games or involving several players. The most popular type of play for dominoes is a block game, in which each player takes turns placing a domino on the table. If a player can’t place a domino, she passes the turn to the next player. A variant of this is a draw game, in which the players take fewer dominoes at the beginning. Each player then must pick up a sleeping domino from the table to add to their own set. This means that some players may end up with fewer than 28 dominoes when the game ends.

Traditionally, dominoes were made from bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory or a dark hardwood such as ebony. More recently, they’ve been made from polymer materials such as melamine or plastic. Some designers are using more natural materials such as woods, marble or even glass to create a more elegant look for domino sets.

If you’re a pantser, that is, you don’t use outlines or software like Scrivener to outline your book before you begin writing, you might find yourself with scenes that don’t fit together, much like the individual dominoes in a line. The solution is to weed out scenes that don’t have enough logical impact on the scene ahead of it.

You can do this by assessing whether the scene has enough tension or if it raises the stakes. Then, if you can’t see how the scene connects to the next, it might be time for a rewrite. In fact, that’s what I did when I was writing my latest novel, The Last Domino. After rereading the manuscript, I realized that I had included too many scenes that were just for decorative purposes or didn’t advance the plot in any way. So, I rewrote those scenes and now the book is in its final editing stages.