Using the Domino Effect to Advance Your Novel

The domino effect is a concept used in writing to describe the way that one scene in a novel affects the scenes that follow it. It’s a powerful tool for advancing the plot in any genre of fiction. Whether you’re a pantser who writes off the cuff or a plotter who uses tools like Scrivener, using the Domino Effect can help you write more effective novels.

In a game of domino, each player has a set of tiles, called a “stock.” The stock is shuffled and then placed in front of the players. Each player draws a domino from the stock and then decides where to place it in their hand or on the table. Some games allow players to buy dominoes from the stock, adding them to the tiles they are already holding in their hands. When playing a game with more than one player, the seats are determined by lot. The player who draws the heaviest tile makes the first play. The seat to the left of that player becomes vacant. Tiebreakers are often decided by drawing additional tiles from the stock.

A domino has a rectangular base and a flat top surface with an arrangement of dots, or “pips,” on it, similar to the markings on a die. These pips are divided into two squares that are marked differently. The pips on one side are labeled with numbers from 1 to 6. The other square is blank or identically patterned. There are a number of different rules for laying dominoes end to end, and scoring points. When a domino is played as the lead, all of its exposed ends must match: one’s touch ones, two’s touch two’s, and so on. If the pips on the exposed sides total any multiple of five, the player scores that number of points.

Many game sets are extended by introducing a variety of different shaped ends. These additional ends increase the amount of unique combinations of pips and, therefore, the number of possible pieces in the set. Common extended sets include double-nine (55 tiles), double-12, and double-18.

There are a wide variety of rules for different games of domino, and each game has its own special style. There are, however, some basic rules that apply to most of them:

After the tiles are shuffled, each player draws a domino from the stock. The player who draws the domino with the highest number of pips makes the first play of that game. The player who draws the next heaviest tile takes the seat to his left, and so on. When a tie occurs, it is resolved by drawing additional tiles from the stock and adding them to the dominoes that each player holds in his hand. Some games allow players to purchase dominoes from the stock, but not all do. In some games, the number of tiles purchased from the stock is added to a player’s score at the end of the game.

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