If you’ve ever played with domino, a set of black and white rectangles that can be lined up in long rows and then knocked over, you know how fun it can be. Dominoes also have many uses in the real world, from teaching children about sequencing to helping businesses manage large projects or teams.
The word domino comes from the Latin dominus, meaning lord or master. It’s a perfect name for someone who knows how to keep the big picture in mind and think two moves ahead. A domino who doesn’t lose sight of the consequences of his actions is a leader who will have the support of his teammates and the confidence of his customers.
Each domino has a number of dots called pips on its face. These pips are used to identify the suit in which a domino belongs (as in poker) or to form some other specified total such as a score. There are different ways to combine these tiles to create a chain of dominoes, but in general a domino must be placed with its matching end touching the edge of another domino. This gives the next domino something to push into, which then reaches out to the last domino and knocks it over.
A domino chain requires a certain amount of energy to be set up, but once the first domino is down, gravity takes over. This force pulls the domino toward Earth and sends it crashing into the next domino. This chain reaction is similar to the way nerve cells function. After a nerve impulse travels down an axon, it needs a certain amount of energy to reset the ions and return the nerve to its resting state. Just as a domino without an adjacent double cannot fall, a nerve with a severe injury cannot fire again until this ionic reset occurs.
When it comes to writing, a domino effect can be a great model for creating scenes that advance the story and build tension. If a writer is a pantser, who doesn’t use an outline or software like Scrivener to plot out the scene order of her story, she’ll likely have dominoes that sit in the wrong place or don’t connect with the scene that follows them.
On the other hand, if a writer is using the domino model to guide her writing, she’ll be careful not to skip any steps or over-plan. Each scene should have a clear purpose and logically connect to the scene that precedes it. This will ensure that the reader is engaged and ready for the next scene. And as a bonus, this will make it easier to edit later. This is an especially useful technique for writing screenplays. The domino model will help writers avoid overwriting and create a more cohesive, compelling narrative. So when you’re ready to start your next script, try out the domino effect for yourself. You might be surprised by how easy it is to get your story cascading.