The Domino Effect


A domino is a thumb-sized rectangular block with a square face bearing an arrangement of dots, called pips or spots, one on each side. The pips indicate a value from six down to none or blank, and each domino is normally twice as long as it is wide. There are many games using dominoes, in which players score points by laying the pieces end to end in lines and angular patterns. Dominoes can also be stacked to form shapes and other structures, for example, the famous “snowman.”

A Domino Effect

The word domino comes from the Latin for fall or collapse, and it has come to mean any action that causes other events to occur in a cascade, like the falling of a row of dominoes. The term has been used to refer to political events, for example, the escalation of U.S. support for the Ngo Dinh Diem regime in Vietnam, which led to a civil war and the overthrow of that country’s government in 1963.

In the past, domino sets were often made from natural materials like bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl or MOP), ivory, and ebony, with contrasting black or white pips. Now, dominoes are more commonly made of polymer, but some sets still feature these traditional materials.

There are many different rules and games for domino, but the most basic is to play on a hard surface so that the tiles stand up easily. Each player takes a turn placing a domino onto the table, positioning it so that its ends match the end of another domino already on the table. Then, the player must either place a matching piece or knock down the existing domino to pass play to the next player. If the player cannot match a current domino, they must draw from a boneyard of unmatched dominoes until they find a domino they can play.

The game is most fun when the dominoes are arranged into an interesting shape or pattern, but it can also be played on an empty table with just two players. When all the tiles have been placed, the winner is the person whose accumulated total of points is highest at the conclusion of the game.

A Domino Effect in Your Novel

In fiction, the domino effect describes a series of events that start with one small change and have a larger impact. In novels, this means that a character’s actions will lead to consequences that are not only bigger than they are alone but will have a ripple effect on those around them. This is a crucial concept to understand and use when writing your novel.

For example, if your protagonist goes against societal norms, this must be shown in your novel in order to convince readers that her behavior is logical. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of your hero seeming unmotivated and irrational.