Domino is a flat, thumb-sized rectangular block that features either a blank surface or one bearing from one to six dots or pips: 28 such dominoes make up a full set of dominoes. A domino is a generic gaming piece, meaning a wide variety of games can be played with it. Many of these games involve lining up dominoes in lines or angular patterns, with the goal to cause them to fall by the force of gravity. Dominoes can also be used to create intricate displays of art and architecture.
One of the best things about domino is that it can be tipped over by anything — a finger, a toy car, even a rocket ship! But the real excitement comes from watching a long chain reaction begin. When each domino topples, it causes the next toppling with a speed and precision that’s reminiscent of a firing neuron.
This same principle can be applied to writing a novel. Whether you write your manuscript off the cuff or use software like Scrivener to help you plot, it’s important to consider the impact that each scene will have on the one ahead of it. Whether the scene will raise or lower tension, or provide new clues to the mystery, it’s important to get that domino effect right.
A good way to think about this is to imagine every scene in a story as a domino. Each individual scene may not be much to look at, but when you put them together, the impact can be tremendous.
For example, when a character reveals that they’re hiding information from their partner, it’s important to make sure the scene is well written so that their partner can react appropriately and advance the story. Domino effects are often what keep readers engaged and eager to turn the page.
The term domino is also sometimes used as a metaphor for a strategy of containment and retaliation against communists. In this sense, the word is often associated with Eisenhower’s policy of supporting Ngo Dinh Diem in South Vietnam and non-communist forces fighting a civil war in Laos during 1961-62. In the same vein, John F. Kennedy would later increase U.S. support for Diem and non-communists in the country, a policy that was known as the Domino Theory.
As you can see, domino is a versatile and powerful tool to use when writing your next book. Whether you’re a pantser who writes off the cuff, or a plotter who works carefully with an outline, remember to pay attention to the domino effect and your novel will be more likely to fall in place. Good luck!