The Domino Effect

Domino is a small rectangular wood or plastic block with a line in the middle to divide it visually into two squares. One side of the domino has an arrangement of dots, resembling those on dice, and the other is blank or slightly differently patterned. Each domino is also identified by its total of exposed dots, called pips. The value of the dots on each end of a domino is multiplied by the number of sides on that domino to determine its rank, or weight. The more pips a domino has, the higher its rank.

The game is played by placing a domino on the table, either directly or with another tile placed adjacent to it. Each subsequent tile must touch that of the previous one, either horizontally, vertically or diagonally. If the resulting chain is a complete line, then points are awarded according to the domino’s rank (or weight) as noted above. Generally, the first domino laid is a double – its matching ends must be adjacent to each other and touching fully. The next tiles may be played adjacent to the first as well or to any other matching ends, including doubles. In the latter case, the dominoes must be connected in a cross-like fashion, and the total of all exposed pips on those two sides must match the amount scored for the first tile played to the first double (i.e., the number of points awarded for a piece touching two dominoes with one “one’s” must equal the total for a piece touched by all three “two’s”).

In the game, players continue to score points by playing their dominoes in a row. When a player has no more dominoes to play, he or she “chips out” and the play passes to the opponent. The winner is the partner whose remaining dominoes have the least number of spots, or “value.”

This type of domino effect occurs in many areas of life, and it can be both positive and negative. For example, a domino effect can lead to economic growth, but it can also cause inflation and other problems. Another example is a political domino effect, where one event causes other events to follow in a predictable way.

In writing, the domino effect is useful for understanding how a writer creates a story arc. A story arc, also known as a plot arc, begins with the character making one decision that has an impact on another scene in the story. The next scene must then follow logically from that action. Using a domino image can help authors, particularly those who are pantsers and don’t write detailed outlines before composing their manuscripts, understand how to make sure that the next scenes will raise tension and advance the plot.

The domino effect was one of the primary reasons for the success of Domino’s Pizza, which opened its first store in 1967 in Ypsilanti. The company’s founder, Dominick Monaghan, based the business on the concept of putting locations near college campuses, where students often sought pizza to curb their studying. This approach fueled the domino effect of customer satisfaction, which eventually led to the company winning several Top Workplace awards from the Detroit Free Press.