The Domino Effect Can Help You Plot Your Novel


Whether you write your novel off the cuff or use a strict outline, the process of plotting your story eventually comes down to one simple question: What happens next? In this article, we’ll explore how the domino effect can help you answer that question in a compelling way.

A domino is a small rectangular tile with an arrangement of pips on one face. Each pips marks either a number or a blank space. Dominoes are used for a variety of games, from simple to complex. Most games involve placing a domino edge to edge against another domino in such a way that adjacent ends match or form some specified total. Typically, the winner of a game is awarded the number of pips on opposing player’s tiles, but there are many variations to this rule.

The physics of a domino chain is quite interesting, and it’s also a good example of the power of momentum. In the case of a domino, momentum refers to the amount of energy that’s transferred from one tile to the next, causing them to fall in a sequence. Physicist Stephen Morris explains that when you set a domino upright, it stores potential energy in its position. As it falls, much of this energy is converted into kinetic energy, the energy that’s needed to push on the next domino.

Hevesh creates some mind-blowing domino setups, and she follows a similar version of the engineering-design process when making them. First, she considers what kind of statement or idea she wants to convey with the layout. Then, she brainstorms images or words that might be relevant to that message. Once she’s figured out what she wants to say, she begins assembling the pieces.

When Hevesh’s creation is complete, she stands it up. It’s at this point that the chain is truly ready for play. All that’s left is to nudge the first piece ever-so-slightly, and watch the rest of her design cascade in rhythm.

Like playing cards, dominoes have a number of rules that must be followed when creating a domino chain. For instance, the last domino in a line must be placed with its two matching sides touching – this is known as “snaking.” Additionally, a tile must always be played against a double (unless it’s a non-double, which can then be played to it), and a new tile cannot be played directly on top of a previous domino. For these reasons, a domino chain often develops a snake-like shape as additional tiles are added to the line. For this reason, it’s important to plan your layout carefully before you begin.