The Domino Effect

Domino is a game or set of tiles with an arrangement of spots, or pips, on one side and blank or identically patterned on the other. Its shape is usually rectangular, with a line down its center dividing it visually into two square halves. The domino’s value is determined by the number of spots on either end—a domino with more pips has a higher value than one with fewer pips. A domino also may be identified by its color. Most commonly, dominoes are white with black pips, although colored sets can be found as well.

We’ve all seen the spectacular domino constructions where, after tipping the first piece just so, all the others fall in a beautiful cascade of rhythmic motion. The principle behind this is called the domino effect—any action that causes the next to take its natural course. In novel writing, the scene domino is the key element that advances a story’s theme or argument.

Hevesh began playing with dominoes when she was 9 years old, when her grandparents gave her a classic 28-pack. She loved setting up the pieces in straight or curved lines, then flicking them to see them fall. Now Hevesh is a professional domino artist, and her YouTube videos of her creations have more than 2 million views.

Like Hevesh, the Domino’s Pizza CEO has a strong belief in the importance of listening to customers. As the company’s top leader, he travels around the country to meet with workers and hear directly from them about what is working and what is not. This open dialogue has led to some major changes at Domino’s, including new leadership training programs, relaxed dress codes, and a revamped college recruiting system.

The Domino’s model for empowering employees has proven successful, and the company has been named a Best Place to Work in multiple surveys. The company has also been praised for its commitment to philanthropy.

The domino effect is more powerful than we often realize. A 1983 study by University of British Columbia physicist Lorne Whitehead demonstrated that a single domino can knock over objects about a quarter of its size. This is because the force that knocks over a larger object pushes on an equivalent number of smaller dominoes in a chain reaction, and those dominoes can in turn each knock over an even greater number of smaller dominoes, and so on. This is what we mean when we say that “one good act can have a domino effect.” Each scene in your novel, and each action within a scene, can be thought of as a domino. When they are all arranged in their correct sequence, they create the kind of dynamic that makes your story unfold naturally and gracefully. So go ahead—try the domino effect in your own writing today.