The Art of Dominoes

A domino is a small, flat, thumbsized rectangular block of wood or cardboard bearing from one to six dots or pips on the face. A complete set of dominoes consists of 28 such pieces. The word is also used for any of the various games played with such pieces, which involve laying them down in lines and angular configurations to form chains or elaborate sequences.

The most common game of domino involves a standard set of 28 tiles, called the “double-six” set. These are first placed in a pile, called the boneyard, and then one player plays a tile onto the boneyard so that its end matches an edge of a previously-played domino. The matching end may be square, cross-ways, or perpendicular to a double. If the resulting chain meets certain criteria, the next domino is then played so that its two matching ends are touching, and the process continues. The result is that, if properly played, the first domino will eventually knock over the entire group of adjacent tiles.

Dominoes are also a popular prop for shows that demonstrate the power of a well-thought-out system that can be brought to life in dramatic fashion. These domino shows often include elaborate layouts with hundreds or thousands of dominoes arranged in careful succession and set to fall with the nudge of only one.

When creating a complex domino layout, it’s important to think like an engineer, according to Hevesh. Each element of the setup must work flawlessly to produce a stunning effect. Using a version control system such as bitbucket to track changes, Hevesh tests each piece of the arrangement before putting it all together. She even films her work so she can make precise corrections if the results don’t turn out as planned.

Hevesh is a true master of the art, with creations that rival those of professional designers in her industry. She is especially skilled at making a variety of shapes and utilizing 3-D elements. But, ultimately, her most important tool is gravity. Gravity is what allows her mind-blowing designs to be so successful, and she has an ingenious way of incorporating it into her creations.

Whether you’re a writer who plots every detail of your manuscript before composing it, or you’re a “pantser” who doesn’t use outlines and relies on the power of the Domino Effect to guide you through the writing process, understanding this concept can help you develop more compelling fiction. Just as a single domino can cause a whole chain reaction, the way you present scenes in your story will have a profound impact on what happens next. So, consider your scene dominoes carefully, and be sure that they fit into your overall narrative plan. This will help ensure that your readers follow the path of your story with enthusiasm and enjoyment. Good luck! -Sarah C. Hill, Ph.D., is a Professor of English at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. She has published numerous articles and reviews and is the author of a novel, “Domino.” Her website is