The Influence of Dominoes

Domino is a game in which players place domino tiles edge to edge on the table. Each domino has a line down its middle that separates the two ends into squares; each end is marked with an arrangement of spots, called pips, similar to those on a die. Some of the squares on a domino are blank, while others are marked with numbers that indicate its suit. Each domino can be used to form a chain that starts with one tile and ends with a specified total of points, or it can be used to make a pattern of lines or 3D structures.

The most common domino sets contain 28 tiles, but larger sets are available for use in games involving several players or those who want to play longer domino chains. Whether you are playing a simple layout game or an elaborate display, the way you arrange and set up your dominoes can have a profound effect on the final result.

Physicist Stephen Morris recently demonstrated that the little domino we all know and love can actually topple objects about one-and-a-half times its size. To achieve this, he arranged 13 tiny dominos on a small surface area. All it took to cause them to fall was a slight shift of weight, which caused each domino to knock over the next in a chain reaction.

In a literary context, we might think of each scene as a domino that influences the one that follows it. If a domino is in the wrong position, doesn’t raise tension or advance the plot, or does not connect well with the scene that precedes it, then that scene is likely to fail. If you are a pantser writer who doesn’t make detailed outlines of the story ahead of time, you might use a domino image to help you weed out scenes that do not contribute to the overall arc of the story.

Each domino has a number of properties that allow it to be played in different ways, forming long chains that build up in complexity. The dominoes are typically made of a natural material such as bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (MOP), ivory, or a dark hardwood such as ebony. They may be inlaid or painted with black or white pips. In the past, dominoes were also made of other materials such as metals and ceramic clay.

The most common domino games are positional ones in which a player places a domino against another so that the numbers shown on the adjacent ends of the tiles match. The resulting chain grows in length as each tile that is placed causes other dominoes to fall over and be added to the line of play. The players then take turns drawing tiles from the stock, which is known as the boneyard, and placing them on the table until the first player cannot possibly add another domino to the chain or reaches their opponents’ maximum score.