A domino is a flat, thumb-sized rectangular block of wood or plastic bearing from one to six pips (or dots): 28 such blocks make up a complete set. It’s also a name for any of the many games played with these small tiles, generally by matching the ends of adjacent pieces and laying them down in lines and angular patterns. Some domino games are scored by counting the number of pips on opposing players’ tiles; others award points to a player who scores the most points over a certain number of rounds.
The domino effect, a principle of social science and behavioral psychology, says that when a behavior changes, it will automatically cause a shift in other related behaviors. For example, when someone starts exercising regularly, they often start eating better. Or when Hevesh creates one of her mind-blowing domino setups, she follows a version of the engineering-design process. This means she starts with a general theme or purpose for the installation and brainstorms images or words that might go with it.
Hevesh’s design process applies to more than just creating a domino set. She’s also used it to plot out her novels. She’s found that thinking about the domino effect helps her to come up with an intriguing story.
Like dominoes, a novel’s plot is like a chain reaction—one event triggers another, and then the next, until the novel has come full circle. This type of plotting is a great way to ensure that all of the necessary elements are present, and that your readers will be engaged throughout the story.
The word “domino” comes from the Latin domina, meaning “heavy.” In English and French, it also refers to a long, hooded cloak worn with a mask during carnival season or at a masquerade. Domino also has a less obvious sense: it can refer to a person who dominates in a particular area, such as a leader or politician. The oldest known reference to domino as a game is in a Chinese document from 1120 CE. In this game, a state official presented dominoes to the emperor, and the emperor then circulated them throughout China to establish a standard for the game. This early use of the game shows that domino has been around for a very long time and has a wide variety of applications.