The Domino Effect in Fiction and Writing


Dominos are small rectangular blocks, generally 28 in number, that can be used to play games. Each domino has a blank or identically patterned face on one side and an arrangement of dots, or “pips,” like those on dice on the other. The domino’s pips determine its value, which is usually either zero or some multiple of five. A single domino cannot have more than six pips. Depending on the game, the dominoes may be placed edge to edge so that the adjacent ends match (one’s touch one’s, two’s touch two’s) or perpendicular to each other. A double-sided domino may also have a pivot or spinner in the middle.

The word domino means “fall over,” and in this sense is used to describe a cascade of events that eventually leads to a final result. The domino effect is also used to refer to a pattern of behavior that can influence others.

In fiction, the domino effect describes how a small event can cause a chain reaction that leads to a major outcome. It’s an effective way to show the impact of a major change or event, especially in a story that is complex and hard to understand.

When writing, the domino effect can be used to add drama or tension to a scene by showing how a character’s actions could impact those around them. Whether the scene is about a character’s personal or professional life, it can be an effective tool to show how one event can lead to another that will impact people in ways you wouldn’t expect.

The domino effect can also be used to describe the results of an action in the real world, such as a terrorist attack or natural disaster. The word has been a popular choice in recent years because it emphasizes the importance of every individual in the chain of events that occurs after a catastrophe or setback.

In this sense, the term has also been used to refer to an event that is inevitable or highly likely to occur because of a preexisting condition, such as a bank merger or government takeover. While this use of the phrase is less common, it can help readers relate to the potential impact of an unavoidable occurrence.

Whether you’re playing domino or using it to write your next novel, the domino effect can be an important tool for generating excitement and interest in a story. Remember, though, that a domino effect must be carefully planned to avoid the risk of boredom or confusion among your readers. Your scenes must be long enough to advance the plot and give the reader a sense of momentum, but not so long that they feel overly drawn out or slow to the point where they lose momentum at key points in the narrative. Otherwise, your scene will be as unmoving as a stack of un-set dominoes. The right balance is a difficult task, but it’s one that can be learned with practice.