What is a Domino?

A domino is a small, thumb-sized block with one side bearing an arrangement of dots or spots. The other side is blank or identically patterned. A complete set of dominoes consists of 28 such pieces. Traditionally, the domino was made from bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother-of-pearl), ivory or a dark hardwood such as ebony, with contrasting black or white pips inlaid or painted on. More recently, dominoes are made from polymers such as plastic and ceramic clay.

Dominoes are played in a variety of ways, including scoring games such as bergen and muggins; blocking games such as matador and Mexican train; and other educational activities that promote counting and spatial skills. One popular game involves laying a chain of dominoes end to end so that the exposed ends match: i.e., one’s touch one’s and two’s touch two’s, etc. When all the dominoes have been placed, the player scores a given number of points by counting the numbers of dots on the exposed ends that total any multiple of five.

In business, the phrase domino effect refers to the way one event can trigger a series of events that affect many people or things. For example, a domino effect can occur when a company announces an increase in prices that causes some customers to stop buying its products and other companies to raise their own prices as a response.

Another common use of the word domino is to describe a system that depends on a large number of players who take turns performing actions that can be followed by other players, each following the actions of the previous player in a chain. A domino effect can also describe an effect that occurs in the brain when one thought triggers a memory or emotion in another part of the brain.

Domino artist Lily Hevesh has been fascinated by the art of dominoes since she was 9 years old, when her grandparents gave her a classic 28-pack of the little blocks. She loved setting them up in straight or curved lines and then flicking the first domino to watch them cascade down, one after the other. Now she has a YouTube channel with more than 2 million subscribers where she shows off her incredible creations.

Hevesh creates her designs by drawing them on paper and then creating test versions of each section to make sure it works correctly before putting it all together. She starts with the biggest 3-D sections, then adds flat arrangements and finally lines of dominoes. She carefully checks each domino in slow motion to ensure that it’s perfectly positioned and secure before she flips the domino.

When writing a novel, plotting can be a bit like arranging dominoes. A story needs scenes that advance the narrative and build up to a dramatic or climactic moment, but those scenes can’t be too long or too short, or the reader will get bored. Considering the domino effect when writing will help you plot your book and keep it compelling.