Domino is a game played with small, flat, rectangular pieces that have anywhere from 0 to 6 dots on each side. The sides of the dominoes are matched in order to make an intricate pattern that looks pretty impressive when they are knocked down.
It’s also the basis for one of my favorite storytelling lessons, the “domino effect”: the inescapable way that one action leads to others. And it’s a lesson that every writer should know, whether you’re writing a novel or a short story.
In addition to its widespread use in games, dominoes are often stacked on end, creating complex designs. But the most spectacular domino designs are ones that involve hundreds of thousands of individual dominos, all set up in a carefully designed sequence.
When you stand a domino upright, its inertia (the tendency of dominoes to resist motion) prevents it from falling or rolling away from you. When the domino falls, however, its potential energy, or stored energy based on its position, is converted into kinetic energy, or the energy of motion.
According to physicist Stephen Morris of the University of Toronto, standing dominoes against the force of gravity makes them store a certain amount of potential energy, which is converted into kinetic energy when they fall. This change in kinetic energy creates a chain reaction, causing all the dominoes to topple over.
That’s why it’s incredibly exciting when the first domino in a line is tipped over, and then the next in the line, and then all of them. It’s called the domino effect, and it’s inspired countless videos and art projects on YouTube.
Among the most famous domino artists is Lily Hevesh, who started playing with dominoes when she was nine and eventually built a YouTube channel called Hevesh5 with more than 2 million subscribers. She’s a professional domino artist, using her creative skills to create beautiful setups for TV shows and movies–and even an album launch for Katy Perry!
Hevesh’s domino work is influenced by her love of storytelling and the way it can inspire people to do extraordinary things. In her own domino shows, builders compete to show off their most imaginative and impressive designs.
She also tries to teach her viewers how narrative works, a lesson that can help them improve their own writing. Ultimately, she hopes to show that the domino effect can be applied to any plot beat or moment of action in a book–whether it’s a car crash, a rocket launch, or an encounter with a tiger.
The story behind dominoes
When it comes to the origin of the domino, we don’t have a lot of information. But a recent article in Wired reports that it may have been introduced in the early 18th century, and that it spread to Europe and later China.
The earliest known dominoes have a pattern on one side and are blank or identically patterned on the other. The identity-bearing side is divided into two squares that are each marked with an arrangement of spots, or pips.