Writing a Novel Like Dominoes

Domino is a small rectangular wooden or plastic block, normally twice as long as wide, with one side blank and the other marked by an arrangement of spots resembling those on a die. Each domino is also characterized by a line that divides its identity-bearing face into two squares, called ends; the number of dots on each end (also known as the value) is indicated by a rank or weight. Each end may be identical, or a different value may be represented on each side. A tile whose ends match belongs to the same suit; for example, a double-six or a double-three. A set of dominoes is known as a deck.

Dominoes can be used to build a variety of games. Most games involve placing a domino edge-to-edge against another, so that the adjacent sides are either identical or form some specified total. In addition, most dominoes have a value on each of their ends. This value, which is the sum of the numbers on the two matching sides, can be added to or subtracted from the total for scoring purposes.

The force of gravity is a key to how dominoes fall. A domino standing upright has potential energy based on its position, but when the first piece falls, much of that potential energy is converted to kinetic energy as the rest of the tiles topple.

Similarly, writing a novel can be seen as a series of scenes that build and fall in a rhythm. In the same way that a domino line can be built with an ever-increasing number of pieces, writers need to consider how each scene will affect the next, thereby creating a story that flows naturally like a domino rally.

For example, in a scene where a character encounters a dangerous stranger, the subsequent confrontation might be a climactic fight or an explosive argument. Then, the characters might scatter, leaving the scene open for a later scene in which an even more dramatic reaction could occur.

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