Writing About Dominoes

A domino is a small flat rectangular block used as a game piece. The face of each domino is marked with an arrangement of spots or pips, like those on a die, and blank or identically patterned on the other side. The number of spots on a domino determines its value and, in some cases, its suit. The most common set of dominoes commercially available has 28 tiles; larger sets, such as double-nine and double-twelve, exist for games requiring more than four players or for those who prefer longer domino chains.

Dominos are arranged into a line with one end touching another, creating a chain of dominoes that grows in length as the players take turns playing them. When a player plays a domino, it must touch the end of the line so that when the next domino is played to it, its spot count matches those on the previous tile. The domino is said to “knock” when it hits the previous tile. The dominoes are arranged so that all players must play a turn to keep the chain growing, and play ends when no player can make a move or when the chain reaches a point where no new moves are possible.

The way the dominoes are positioned on the table and the number of tiles in the set affect how quickly the chain develops. If the players are unable to make any moves, the chain stops, and the winners are those with the most number of matching pips in their remaining dominoes. Some of the most popular domino games are blocking games, such as bergen and muggins, where players try to empty opponents’ hands while blocking their own. Other domino games are scoring games, such as Mexican train and bergen and muggins, where the losing players score based on the numbers of their remaining dominoes.

One of the most important lessons I teach my clients in critiquing their manuscripts is to think of each plot beat as a domino, and to consider how all the dominoes fit together to form the bigger story picture. This is especially useful for novel writers, who may not have a clear visual picture of the entire story at any given moment.

Hevesh shows her domino work in videos on YouTube and at art exhibits, arranging the pieces to create shapes such as curved lines or grids that form pictures when they fall. She often tests each section of her work before putting them all together, and she films the process so that she can see how her ideas work in practice and correct any problems. The result is a magnificent display of artistic domino work, and it is no wonder that she has won numerous awards for her creations.