What Is Dominoes?

A domino is a tile with an arrangement of dots on one side, often called pips, and a blank or identically patterned other side. Each domino is a unit that can be combined with other units to form long lines of play. When a domino is tipped over, it causes the next domino in the line to tip and so on until the entire sequence of dominoes has fallen over. This is the source of the common expression, the domino effect, meaning a small initial action can have far-reaching consequences.

Like the physical domino, a story works best when it is paced in a way that naturally influences the next scene. If the pace is too slow, the reader loses interest. If it is too fast, the story feels disjointed and difficult to follow. Ideally, the plot progresses in a way that is easy for readers to follow and that creates emotional shifts. This is how a story reaches its climax and achieves its true impact.

In a domino game, players take turns placing a domino on the table positioning it so that the numbered ends of the tile match those of the adjacent dominoes. The first player to place a domino with both numbers showing wins the hand. Players may also play more than one domino at a time, and play continues until one of the players chips out and is unable to continue playing. This is often called rapping the table.

Dominoes can be used to build simple structures such as curved lines, grids that form pictures when the tiles fall and 3D structures like towers or pyramids. Artists who work with dominoes create intricate art installations using the pieces.

A basic rule in most domino games is that if a player has a playable domino, then it must be played when his turn comes up. If he cannot, then he “raps” the table and play passes to the next player. This rule is sometimes relaxed, with the winner being the player who has the least number of playable dominoes remaining.

Students can use dominoes to help understand the commutative property of addition. They can set up equations for dominoes, indicating that the sum of the dots on each end of the domino may be written in different ways but the total number of dots remains the same. This activity is appropriate for students in the early grades.

As a writer, you can use the image of a domino to consider the balance between high-action scenes and softer moments of reflection (also known as sequel). Your scenes should build tension and reveal character motivation while giving readers glimpses into your world. Be sure to check that your scenes are logically connected, and make the most of your setting by showing the impact of each on the scene after it. Similarly, if your scene builds suspense but then does nothing to advance the narrative, it might be time to rip up that scene and start again.