How to Use the Domino Effect to Plot Your Novel

Dominoes are a great metaphor for the way plot works. Whether you compose your novel off the cuff or take time with a careful outline, plotting your story comes down to one question: What happens next? Considering how to use the domino effect will help you answer this question in a compelling way.

The idea behind a domino is that you start by laying down a single piece of tile, and then you place others on top of it in a precise sequence. This allows you to create a line of action that continues to grow and expand until it reaches its ultimate conclusion. In the same way, each scene in your book is a little like a domino. You begin by describing the event, then placing subsequent events on top of it, until eventually all the pieces fall. The key is to make each domino as interesting as possible, and this will ensure that your readers continue to read on.

Lily Hevesh has been playing with dominoes since she was 9 years old. Her grandparents had the classic 28-piece set, and she loved setting them up in straight and curved lines, flicking the first domino, and watching the entire line come down. She’s now a professional domino artist, and her YouTube videos of spectacular domino setups have millions of subscribers.

One of the most important aspects of a successful business is understanding how to build momentum. Domino’s founder Tom Monaghan understood this when he opened the first Domino’s in Ypsilanti, Michigan in 1967. He emphasized putting stores near college campuses, as this would help him attract the young, hungry customers who would drive his business. This strategy helped Domino’s quickly grow to over 200 locations.

To understand why a domino has such a dramatic impact, you have to consider the nature of gravity. A domino standing upright has potential energy based on its position, but once you knock it over, the energy changes from potential to kinetic, causing other dominoes to fall as well. In other words, it’s the “domino effect.”

When you think about how to develop your own business, the same principles apply. If you can find small victories right away in the day, it will help to motivate you and propel you forward. These domino actions are what I refer to as “high leverage” actions. They’re the small victories that can trigger a chain reaction of other success-building behaviors, much like a domino falling over and triggering another.

The most basic domino game involves a double-six set, 28 tiles that are shuffled and placed face down to form the stock (or boneyard). Each player then draws seven tiles. The player who draws the highest-value domino plays first. The goal of the players is to attach their tiles to other dominoes so that they add up to five or three (one point for each) or higher. European-style dominoes are typically made from bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, or a dark hardwood such as ebony. The pips are either inlaid or painted.