How Domino Can Help You Write a Novel

Domino, a game of strategy and skill played with rectangular tiles, has delighted and entertained generations of players across the world. Whether it’s the simple pleasure of a casual game with friends or the intricately planned construction of a massive display, dominoes have something for everyone.

One of the key elements of a good domino construction is timing. If the first piece is tipped just a little too soon, the whole thing can fall apart. Likewise, novels need scenes that advance the story, but they also must feel natural and not overly long (which can make a scene seem heavy with detail or minutiae) or too short—too fast, and the reader may not be ready for the next challenge or goal.

Similarly, domino is a great metaphor for writing a novel. While some writers compose their manuscripts off the cuff or take time with an outline, it’s important to think about the pace of your scenes, so that readers feel like the story is building momentum and leading toward the next event or goal. This is why it’s helpful to consider how the domino effect can help you plan your scenes, and how you can use it to write a novel that will hold readers’ interest until the very end.

When a player cannot play his or her hand, the player “chips out” by placing a domino on its edge against another that matches either the color of the existing domino (e.g., a 5 to 5) or some specified total. Normally, the other player then plays his or her own tile on that match. If the dominoes reach a point at which no player can proceed, the winners are the partners whose combined total of all spots on their remaining dominoes is the lowest.

Many domino games involve a line of play that runs lengthwise, with the open ends of each domino lined up and touching. In some cases, the line of play is joined by a double (a domino that can be played on all four sides). This type of double is often called a spinner.

The player who holds the heaviest domino in the line of play begins the game. However, some games allow the winner of the previous game to choose his or her seat and thus begin play. If there is a tie, the players draw new hands and play continues. Occasionally, some players will agree that the opening player can immediately play a second tile on any of his or her open doubles at any time during the game. This rule is known as the set, down, or lead.