How Dominoes Can Help Writers Create a Compelling Story

A domino, also known as a bone, card, men, or pieces, is a small, flat rectangular block used as a gaming object. Its surface is marked with numbers that identify its value. Dominoes are normally twice as long as they are wide. They are usually played with one person at a time and players must play a tile onto the table that has a matching end to the adjacent dominoes, thereby developing an increasing length of chains or “snake lines.”

The most common domino games involve scoring points by counting the number of pips on a domino’s exposed ends (known as its “value”), blocking opponents’ play by placing tiles in front of them, and determining the winner of a game by a series of special rules such as the bergen or muggins variant of the Concentration game. There are also a variety of other, less common, domino games including blocking and trick-taking.

While these games are a lot of fun, there is another domino effect that can help writers create a compelling story. Like dominoes that stack on top of each other, scenes in a novel must link together to form a whole. If the scene dominoes do not link together properly, the story cannot progress in a meaningful way. In other words, the writer must carefully consider how each scene will influence the next scene.

Dominoes can be much more powerful than people realize. In fact, a domino that falls can knock down things one-and-a-half times its size, according to University of British Columbia physicist Lorne Whitehead. Physicist Stephen Morris at the University of Toronto agrees, and notes that when you set up a domino by pushing it upright against gravity, it stores potential energy, which converts into kinetic energy when the domino falls. This energy then causes the next domino to fall, and so on, resulting in an incredible chain reaction.

When a domino falls, the force that caused it to topple is called gravitational attraction. This force pulls the domino down toward Earth, causing it to crash into the next domino and cause that domino to fall.

Whether you write an off-the-cuff draft of your manuscript or take your time with a careful outline, you will find that plotting your novel is a lot like setting up a domino rally. Whether you want to keep the chain going as long as possible or stop it as quickly as possible, a good plot will rely on dominoes—or scenes—that link together and impact the next scene in a meaningful way. This type of story structure is the basis for many of the most popular books in history. Whether they are fiction or nonfiction, these dominoes will naturally advance your plot and keep readers engaged. They will also help you answer the key question in every story: What happens next?