A domino is a flat, thumb-sized rectangular block, bearing from one to six pips (or dots) on each end. A set of 28 such dominoes forms a complete set. The word “domino” is also used to describe any of the many games played with such pieces, usually by matching their ends or arranging them in lines and angular patterns. Dominoes may be played by two or more people, and the object of the game is to score points by laying tiles in a row so that their exposed ends touch each other (one’s touching one’s, two’s touching two’s, etc.). The player whose exposed ends total any multiple of five wins the game.
Hevesh, a domino artist, started playing with dominoes at the age of 9. She loved to arrange them in straight or curved lines, flicking them and watching them fall, one after another. Now, at 20, she has a huge following on YouTube and creates mind-blowing domino setups for movies, TV shows, events—even the album launch of pop star Katy Perry.
What makes these domino structures so impressive is the way the physics of energy work. When a domino is set up correctly, much of its potential energy converts to kinetic energy, which gives the next domino the extra push it needs to fall. The energy then travels from domino to domino, until the entire sequence falls, often with spectacular results.
When the Domino Effect comes into play in fiction, it’s often used to describe a situation where a character’s actions cause a chain reaction, with consequences far beyond what would have occurred if the character hadn’t taken that action. The point is to illustrate how a single event can impact numerous people in different ways, depending on their individual circumstances.
The Domino Effect is important to understand in writing, because it illustrates how a simple, seemingly minor change can have profound effects on others. This can be a valuable tool for writers to use when creating characters who take risks or make decisions that are out of step with social norms. But, in order to successfully use the Domino Effect, writers need to ensure they provide enough motivation or logic for readers to follow along, giving them reason to support or accept their hero’s actions even when they defy societal expectations. Otherwise, the story may feel unrealistic and difficult to follow.