The Domino Effect

Dominoes are small rectangular wooden or plastic blocks with blank or marked faces bearing dots resembling those on dice. A domino is also the name of a game played with such blocks and may refer to a company that produces them. The word is also used as a verb, meaning to cause something to fall over in a row or pattern. The most common use of the word is to describe a chain reaction that starts with a single toppled domino and then causes others to follow it in rapid succession. The physics behind this is similar to that of a nerve impulse in the brain, which transmits from one cell to another along an axon without loss of energy.

The word domino also can refer to a person who demonstrates power or authority over others. It can also mean someone who tries to gain control over the business or financial dealings of another person. These kinds of actions can cause a chain effect that leads to unpleasant or dangerous consequences.

To play domino, players draw tiles from a set and then place them on-edge in front of them. The first player, usually determined by drawing lots or by who holds the heaviest hand, places the first tile on the table. Each subsequent player must then match his or her tiles with those of the opponents. To do so, each side of a domino must have a matching number of pips (for example, a double-six may be matched with any other tile whose total of pips equals 12).

A player can score points by laying dominoes end to end. To do so, the exposed ends of each domino must match, i.e., one’s touch two’s, or two’s touch one’s. When all dominoes are played, the players whose exposed ends sum to the highest value win the game.

Whether you’re writing a book on the fly or plotting your novel using a carefully drawn outline, you must consider the domino effect when deciding how each scene will connect to the next. The key to an effective story is progression — readers must be able to see the dominoes falling in a smooth sequence until the big climax.

The standard domino set contains 28 pieces, and many different games can be played with it. The most popular games are the “block” and the “draw” game, both of which are variations on the same basic principle. Block games, for instance, involve blocking other players by placing a tile on the table that matches a player’s current hand, while draw games require a match of the opposing player’s tiles. The rules vary from one game to the next, but the general idea is that players try to reach a target score or a maximum number of rounds before one player wins. For many of these games, the pips on each domino are counted as one if they are a single number or two if they are a combination of numbers (for example, a 6-6 counts as six). Other variations are possible.

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