The Domino Effect in Novel Writing

A domino is a rectangular tile with a line or ridge down the middle and an arrangement of spots, or “pips,” on each end. Like a die or playing card, dominoes can be used in many different games. Most of us are familiar with a traditional domino set, which has one unique piece for each combination of ends from one to six. Larger sets are also available, such as double-18 sets that contain 190 tiles.

You’ve probably seen videos of a long chain of dominoes falling until it reaches the ground. These chain reactions are often awe-inspiring, and the energy that is transferred from one to another is remarkable. As a physicist, Stephen Morris explains, this is the result of gravity at work. When you stand a domino upright, it has potential energy, or stored energy based on its position. But when you knock it over, much of that potential energy is converted to kinetic energy, or the energy of motion. This energy is transferred to each subsequent domino, which then has enough kinetic energy to topple it and so on.

In novel writing, the scene domino is each point that illustrates a theme or statement. Each one can be insignificant on its own, but when you connect them together they create a story. Using the domino effect in your plotting can make your story more compelling by providing the logic for your character to do what they’re doing. For example, if you have a character that goes against societal norms such as killing someone or having an affair, the domino effect gives readers permission to stay with your character or at least keep reading.

Dominoes are a symbol of luck and good fortune, as well as a common sight at weddings and funerals. They also have a strong association with gambling and are commonly seen on the backs of casino chips and at casinos in Las Vegas. Despite this association, they’re not as popular in the United States as they are in other countries, where they are sold in a variety of sizes and colors.

Whether you compose your novels off the cuff or carefully follow an outline, a good plot requires a series of scenes that lead up to a dramatic conclusion. Each scene domino is a step in the journey, and understanding how to use them can help you plot your stories more effectively.

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