What is a Domino Effect?

We’ve all seen a domino construction where the first piece is lined up in a careful sequence and then, with just a little nudge, the rest of the pieces fall in a rhythmic cascade. This is what is called a domino effect, and it’s also the name for any action that can influence an entire series of events.

Dominoes are a fun way to teach about number sense and commutative property. Teachers can show students that the sum of the dots on a domino is the same regardless of whether the domino is oriented with its 2 on the left or 4 on the right. This is an excellent way to demonstrate that addition equations can be written in any order, which is a foundational concept for later learning about multiplication.

A domino is a rectangular or square tile with a pattern of spots, called pips, on one face and blank or identically patterned on the other. There are many different games that can be played with dominoes. Some involve scoring points by putting down a domino that has a number of dots that is a multiple of the number of dots on the opponent’s domino. Other games are based on skill and luck and can be competitive.

The history of the word “domino” is not clear, but it is believed that the word was borrowed from the Italian noun domina (“domini”), which may refer to the hooded cloak worn together with a mask at a carnival or at a masquerade ball. A much earlier sense of the word, in both English and French, was a long hooded cape worn by a priest over his surplice.

In business, a domino effect can occur when an event in one part of the company throws off other parts. For example, if a company employee fails to meet a deadline, it can delay other projects and create a chain reaction that eventually leads to a decline in the overall performance of the organization.

As a writer, you can use the domino analogy to help you make sure that your scenes are properly aligned and have the necessary impact on the ones that precede them. For example, if you’re writing a mystery and a scene introduces information that is not logically connected to the previous scene, it can throw off the whole narrative. This can happen if you write like a pantser and don’t plot out your scene details ahead of time. To avoid this problem, you can use a tool such as Scrivener to plan out your scenes and to ensure that they are linked correctly. You can even use scene cards to remind yourself of what information the scene will need to advance the story. This will prevent you from introducing a scene that has no purpose and could be considered a non-domino.