Domino, from the Italian domino, is a small rectangular block used as a game piece. The domino is typically made of wood or plastic, and its faces are either blank or marked with an arrangement of dots resembling those on dice. A domino is usually placed end to edge against another domino, with a space between them. A series of dominoes can be arranged to form straight or curved lines, grids that create pictures when the dominoes fall, or 3D structures like towers and pyramids. When a domino is tipped ever-so-slightly, it causes the other dominoes in the line to tip over, which in turn triggers more dominoes to tumble, and so on. Dominoes can also be stacked on their edges to form walls and other structures.
One of the most beautiful aspects of a well-made domino construction is that it’s possible for just a single domino to set off a chain reaction of events that leads to the completion of the entire structure. This concept is the basis for the popular expression, “the domino effect,” which describes any action that can cause a series of consequences that cascade from it.
In a game of domino, players each take turns placing a domino edge to edge against another, either matching the value of the previous domino or forming a specified total with it. The player who cannot place a domino passes their turn to the next player. The first player to complete their dominoes wins the game. Most people play with a traditional double six-sided domino set that contains 28 tiles, though there are larger sets available.
A popular variation is the Draw Game, in which each player starts with a smaller number of dominoes and adds to their score by picking up a domino from the boneyard as they go. Each time a player is unable to place a domino they must pick up a new one from the boneyard until they have all of their tiles. This variant is sometimes played with a special type of tile called a double-sided domino, which has markings on both sides that allow it to be placed in the same way as a regular domino.
The game of dominoes is not only for kids; Lily Hevesh, a professional domino artist, has built spectacular layouts that show off the amazing range of what can be done with this simple toy. A video of her work has more than 2 million views on YouTube.
Whether you plot your novel on a napkin or with a meticulous outline, the question of what will happen in your story is just as important to answer as it was for Hevesh when she started creating her masterpieces. Using the domino effect can help you craft a story that has plenty of momentum and drama, whether your hero is trying to avoid falling into a trap or saving the world from destruction.
Dominos are most commonly used for positioning games, in which players place dominoes in a row edge to edge with each other. Each domino has a number that distinguishes it from the others; this is called its suit. Some dominoes have multiple numbers on their ends, but most of them belong to just one suit.