The Art of Domino

Domino is a small, flat, rectangular block of wood, bone, or plastic used as a gaming object, typically arranged in lines and angular patterns. Each domino has one side that features a number of dots or blanks, called pips. Two or more dominoes with identical pips belong to the same suit. The most common sets contain 28 dominoes. Dominoes can be affixed to a tabletop in various ways, including stacked on a ridge, forming shapes like hearts or a train, or glued to a sheet of paper for use as a map. The word domino also refers to any of the many games played with such pieces, especially those in which matching the ends of two dominoes and laying them down in blocks, rows, or lines causes a chain reaction that eventually knocks over the entire structure.

Physicist Stephen Morris, a University of Toronto professor who has studied the power of dominoes, explains that when a domino is standing upright, it stores potential energy because it is resisting the pull of gravity. A tiny nudge is all it takes to overcome this inertia and allow the domino to fall, which then releases that energy as kinetic energy and causes other dominoes to topple. The chain reaction continues in this way, causing more and more dominoes to fall, until the whole structure collapses.

Hevesh makes test versions of each section of a domino work before she creates the final product, and films these tests in slow motion to make precise corrections as needed. Then she lays them out, starting with the largest 3-D sections and then moving on to flat arrangements of dominoes. She also checks each domino to ensure it works individually, and she uses tweezers to carefully position the pieces so they’ll be as stable as possible.

When the final domino is laid, it’s a beautiful sight. Hevesh’s creations range from a simple line of dominoes to intricate tracks that form pictures or 3-D structures. She also designs and builds custom-made domino art for clients, incorporating themes and colors to match their businesses or events.

In writing, the concept of the domino effect is useful for describing how scenes advance a story and build on each other to reach its conclusion. If the next scene doesn’t fit in with what came before it, it’s likely that something’s wrong with the flow of the narrative.

In addition, if a scene is too long or too short, it will feel off-pace. To avoid this, it’s a good idea to plan ahead with outlines and other tools such as Scrivener. This allows writers to weed out scenes that don’t move the story forward, or that are too far away from the goal or plot point of the novel. In both cases, the result can be a smoother, more natural-flowing plot. Like a well-timed series of dominoes, the right sequence of scenes can bring readers to the satisfying end of a novel.