The Domino Effect in Writing

If you have ever watched a domino effect in person, you know the way it looks: Thousands of little white pieces stand unmoving until some tiny nudge causes them all to fall over, one by one, in a rhythmic cascade. When writing, it can be useful to consider how a scene’s action can have that same kind of domino effect. This is especially true in scenes that involve a character’s emotional shift or change in goal.

Domino (or dominoes) is the name of a family of games played with small rectangular blocks that have either blank or bear from one to six pips, or dots. 28 such pieces form a complete set. Dominoes are normally used to play positional games where a player or team places a domino edge to edge against another in such a way that the exposed ends match: for example, a double touching a single. This enables the domino chain to develop in a snake-like shape, depending on the rules of the game and limitations of the playing surface.

Generally, the winner of each hand is determined by who has the highest number of dominoes in his or her stack. To determine this, the dominoes are arranged upside down and mixed; each player then draws a domino from the stock. The player who draws the highest domino, based on its total number of dots, then chooses to begin the first play of the game.

In addition to the blocking and scoring games, there are also some games that involve a skill element, such as solitaire or trick-taking games. These are usually adaptations of card games and were once popular to circumvent religious prohibitions against the use of cards. Most of these games can be played with a standard double-six domino set, although some are limited to specific numbers of matching ends, or require the use of an “extended” set with additional ends.

An important lesson in most domino games is the commutative property of addition. The domino helps students to see that the total number of dots on a domino is the same whether it’s written vertically, horizontally, or diagonally; this is an important concept to master when moving from using moveable manipulatives to only writing addition equations.

In 2009, a domino rally was held to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The toppling event involved more than seven million dominoes, including some that were specially designed for the occasion. Some artists, such as acrobat Salima Peippo, build elaborate domino constructions that can be viewed in amusement parks and museums. Dominoes are also frequently used as components of Rube Goldberg machines, which attempt to accomplish complex tasks in an unusual manner. In 2011, a Dutch acrobat broke the world record for the longest domino chain, which was previously held by an American magician. The longest known domino chain is over a mile long and features over 100 pieces. A video of the feat can be seen on YouTube.