What is Domino?

Domino is an elegant, simple game with many variations. In its most basic form, players place dominoes in a line, then each player in turn moves one of them to a spot on the end of the line (or “the rail”), positioning it so that the number on its face matches that of an adjacent domino. This can be done horizontally, vertically, or diagonally; the only requirement is that both matching sides touch the rail.

This creates a chain that grows longer as each domino is played. When all of the players have finished placing their tiles, the first person to play a tile that will match an existing domino wins. The other players then continue to take turns until the winning player can no longer play a tile.

The word Domino comes from the Italian phrase domino, meaning “little table”. It is believed that the game was popularized in England through its use at the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Its popularity continued to increase during the reign of her son, King James II, who may have introduced it to France. It became a favorite pastime of Louis XIV’s court.

Modern sets of dominoes are often made of a polymer such as melamine, although other materials can also be used. In addition, the surface of a domino can be engraved with designs or text and painted with colors, allowing manufacturers to produce unique sets. Some high-end sets feature a combination of natural materials such as silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, and ebony, with black or white pips inlaid or painted against the background.

A Domino set consists of 28 individual dominoes, with each piece having either six or eight pips on each half of its face. Dominos with six pips on each side are known as double-sixes, and dominoes with eight pips on each side are called double-eights. The remaining pips on the faces of dominoes are blank or “null”. Blank dominoes are sometimes used to separate groups of tiles from each other or to add variety to a game.

Each scene in a novel, fiction or nonfiction, works like a domino, with the effect of each one naturally impacting the scenes that follow it. This is one of the biggest lessons I try to impart when I provide book editing services to clients. Whether writing mystery, romance, or historical fiction, if a scene doesn’t have enough momentum to push on the next domino, then it’s probably ineffective.

Like those unmoving dominoes, a scene that doesn’t advance the plot or raise tension in any way will cause readers to tune out or stop reading. This is why a solid outline, whether written on paper or in a writing application such as Scrivener, is important for authors. Alternatively, if you are a pantser, that is, you don’t make outlines and instead write the scene as it unfolds, you will likely end up with scenes that aren’t quite at the right angle or don’t have the logical impact of the scene ahead of them.