Dominoes are small pieces of material that some people like to play games with by lining them up in rows and then knocking them over. They can be used to build intricate structures or just to kick off a chain reaction that results in more and more dominoes falling over. The first domino can be as little as 5 millimeters tall, but a larger one could be more than three feet high. In 1983, University of British Columbia physicist Lorne Whitehead set up 13 dominoes of varying sizes and demonstrated their ability to knock over objects about one-and-a-half times their size.
Dominoes come in sets of 28 and are also known as bones, cards, men, tiles, spinners or tickets. They are typically twice as long as they are wide and have a line in the middle to divide them visually into two squares, each marked with an arrangement of dots called pips that represent the value of the piece. One side of each domino has a number that corresponds to the pips on the other, but sometimes both sides are blank or have identically patterned squares.
A domino has a value of 0 if the pips are arranged in a circle, 1 if the pips are in a line and 2 if the pips are in alternating columns. The domino’s value is important to understand because it determines how many dominoes can be stacked before it will break. A higher value means a heavier domino and therefore a stronger chain.
In domino games, each player takes turns placing a domino edge to edge with another domino so that the matching ends of both pieces are adjacent. The dominoes must touch fully unless they are doubles, in which case they may be placed cross-ways. The result is a chain of dominoes that gradually grows in length until the players reach a point at which they can no longer go on. The winners are the players whose combined total of spots on their remaining dominoes is the lowest.
When a domino is played so that it falls on the right edge of a row, the row becomes a “snake-line.” This is because the next tile plays to this edge will fall onto the left edge of the previous domino and thus cause that domino to turn into a snake-line as well.
In a novel, every scene is a domino that can influence the next one in a similar way to this. However, the scenes need to be spaced correctly so that they don’t feel overlong (heavy on detail and minutiae) or too short and shallow at moments of great discovery or plot points. Dominoes that are too far apart will not be effective; they won’t have enough momentum to cascade into the next scene.