Domino is a game that involves arranging tiles on a surface in order to create a chain of dominoes. The first domino that is flipped over initiates the chain reaction that causes all the other dominoes to fall. The resulting pattern can be straight or curved lines, grids that form pictures when they fall, stacked walls, and 3D structures like towers and pyramids.
There are many different ways to play domino, and the rules vary from one game to another. To determine who starts playing, the players may draw lots or have the winner of the previous game start. Then the players must decide how to proceed, whether they will play all of their dominoes or “chip out” when necessary.
When Lily Hevesh began to collect dominoes at age 9, she was fascinated by the way a simple flick of the finger could cause the entire line to fall. Hevesh’s grandparents gave her a classic 28-tile set, and she soon started posting videos of her creations on YouTube. Today, her domino videos have more than 2 million subscribers.
Creating the perfect domino setup requires careful planning. Hevesh makes test versions of each section to ensure that the entire installation will work as intended. Once she is satisfied with the results of the test, she starts putting the pieces together. She works on the biggest 3-D sections first, then moves on to straight or curved lines. Finally, she adds flat arrangements of dominoes that connect the sections.
Hevesh explains that dominoes have inertia, which is the tendency of a system to resist motion until some outside force is applied. She says that the small nudge that causes a single domino to tip over releases this stored energy, which is then used to push on the next domino in the chain. The more energy that is released, the faster the dominoes will fall.
The same principle applies to writing. Whether you are a pantser who writes without an outline, or a plotter who uses tools like Scrivener to plan out your story before you begin, the key question that should be asked of every scene in your novel is, “What will happen to my character next?”
Considering how dominoes cascade from one action to the next can help you answer this question in a compelling manner. If you have a sequence of scenes that don’t build up the tension, or if you are having your protagonist encounter obstacles that don’t raise the stakes, your readers will lose interest. But if your story has enough momentum, it will be like a pile of dominoes that have been carefully laid on the table. Then, when your hero is ready to take a new leap of faith, your audience will be there to cheer him or her on. Until then, keep writing!