The Domino Effect in Writing

Dominoes, the tiles that can be stacked in lines or arranged in 3D structures like towers and pyramids, are the basis for a wide variety of games. The most common games involve scoring points, such as in bergen and muggins, or blocking the opponents’ play, such as matador and chicken foot. They also serve as a great way to teach kids about numbers and counting.

A domino is a rectangular tile with a square or round surface marked by a number of dots or spots, known as pips, on each half of its face. It is normally twice as long as it is wide. Depending on the type of game, the markings on a domino may indicate the result of throwing dice or may be used to identify individual dominoes in a chain of play. Dominoes with one or two pips on each end are called combination dominoes, and those with pips on both ends are doublets. Dominoes with no pips or blank on either end are called zero or null.

As we’ve all seen in the famous video of a woman setting up a gigantic domino construction that takes several nail-biting minutes to fall, when you tip a single domino ever-so-slightly, it sets off a cascade of dominoes that fall in unison. This is due to the law of gravity, which pulls a domino toward Earth and causes it to hit other dominoes, knocking them over in a smooth sequence.

This same law of gravity can apply to your story, which needs to have smooth, unbroken action that builds up to a climax. A story that has a series of hiccups or gaps in the logic will confuse readers and frustrate them.

If you want your story to have a domino effect, be sure that each scene builds smoothly from one to the next. If your characters behave inconsistently, readers will stop reading and turn to other books. In fact, a main character that behaves inconsistently can be as frustrating for readers as a cliched “Dirty Harry”-type villain.

Another aspect of the domino effect is the domino effect in leadership. A good leader is able to motivate and direct his or her employees in ways that help them succeed, rather than simply telling them what to do. This leadership style, sometimes called a “domino effect,” is more effective than top-down management. In a domino effect, employees are allowed to make decisions independently within a framework that supports the company’s values. This frees up managers to focus on high-level strategy and policy matters. It also encourages a collaborative workplace that is focused on employee engagement and development.