Dominoes Are a Great Way to Start a Story

Domino’s are a reminder of how even the most basic actions can cause a chain reaction with wide-reaching effects. And that is the essence of a good story: creating scenes that have a dramatic impact on the ones that follow. Whether you write by the seat of your pants or take the time to outline your manuscript in a program like Scrivener, the process of developing your novel comes down to one question: What will happen next? If you can think of each scene as a domino, and consider how every plot beat will impact the ones that come after it, then you’ll be well on your way to writing a compelling story.


A domino is a thumbsized rectangular block, either blank or bearing from one to six pips or dots: 28 such pieces form a complete set. Dominoes are used to play a number of games, most of which involve matching the ends of adjacent dominoes and laying them down in lines or angular patterns. Western dominoes were first recorded in the mid-18th century.

The game of domino has been a popular pastime for centuries and is played by millions of people worldwide. It is often considered a therapeutic activity, as it can reduce stress and anxiety. A large part of the entertainment value of the game lies in the physical movement involved, as players try to maneuver their tiles into place. It is also fun to watch the chains grow and develop their own personality as each new tile is added to it.

There are a number of different games that can be played with dominoes, from simple to complex. One of the most common is the Block game, in which each player takes a number of dominoes and then places them, edge to edge, so that their numbers match those of the previous tiles or form a particular total. A domino must touch a double (either a corner or a center) or be crossed by it in order to be played.

Another type of domino game is the Draw game, which requires more strategic thinking. Players start with less than a full set of dominoes and, when they cannot play, must choose a domino from the boneyard that will add to their set. The players then take turns placing their dominoes, taking care to place each one so that its matching end touches the domino before it or its own double.

Dominoes can be made of a variety of materials, but the most popular are polymer plastics such as bakelite, phenolic, and ABS, and woods such as mahogany, oak, and hickory. Natural stone (such as marble or granite), other kinds of wood, metals, and ceramic clay are sometimes used.

For the most intricate domino arrangements, artists such as Lily Hevesh, who has created amazing domino setups for television shows and events, use a combination of flat arrangements and 3-D structures. She creates test versions of each section of a domino installation, then films it in slow motion so she can make adjustments as needed. Her largest displays can take several nail-biting minutes to fall.

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