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The Domino Effect in Writing

A domino is a small rectangular block used as a gaming object. It has a line running through its center to divide it visually into two squares, each marked with an arrangement of dots, or “pips,” similar to those on dice. The number of pips on each end of the domino identifies its value, and a domino with more pips is “heavier” than one with fewer or no pips. A domino also can have a blank or identically patterned side, which is called a double.

Dominos have been around for a long time and are used in a variety of games. Some, like tic-tac-toe, involve matching a player’s tile to another on the board. Other games use scoring or blocking strategies, and some even help children develop their counting skills. In the past, dominoes were used in military strategy and naval combat training.

When a set of dominoes is tipped over, the pieces fall in a rhythmic cascade. They are an example of the domino effect, which can be described as any chain reaction that starts off small and grows to be bigger than the original event.

As a writing concept, the domino effect is an interesting way to think about scenes in a story. Each scene can be thought of as a domino that, when tipped ever-so-slightly, triggers a series of events that naturally influence the next scene.

This idea of dominoes as scene dominoes is especially useful for pantsters who don’t plot out their stories in advance, but instead let the action guide them. By using this metaphor, they can weed out scenes that don’t have enough of a logical impact on the scene ahead of them.

For example, if a heroine finds an important clue that could lead to solving a mystery, but the next scene doesn’t develop that point, something is wrong. The next scene needs to “dominate” the previous scene by advancing the information or adding to the tension.

The same principle applies to story structure. If a scene doesn’t “dominate” the story in some way, it’s probably not needed or needed to be written.

When Domino’s was struggling, Monaghan implemented changes based on the company’s values, including promoting open lines of communication with customers. These included a relaxed dress code, new leadership training programs, and a college recruiting system that helped Domino’s get its feet back on the ground. By focusing on what was working and not fighting against it, they re-established a domino effect that fueled growth. Ultimately, this was what saved Domino’s from going under.