Domino is a small rectangular block, often thumb-sized, with one to six pips or dots. It is used in games to build structures, lines or rows. A domino can be played with one or more players, with the goal of knocking them all over. It’s easy to see why children enjoy playing with them. They are fun to place down in rows and to see how they fall when you nudge them. It’s also interesting to see how one little domino can create such a powerful effect.
When we talk about domino in terms of book editing services, we suggest to writers that each scene they need to develop should be viewed as a separate domino that will naturally impact the next scene. This idea is helpful in creating a well-developed plot. Whether you write your manuscript off the cuff or carefully plot out each scene in advance, there is always one basic question to ask: What will happen next? Using the concept of domino as a framework for each scene will help you answer that question in a way that is compelling to your reader.
Physicists have discovered that a domino can actually tip over objects up to one-and-a-half times its size. The key is that the center of gravity of a domino rests on a small surface area, which means it only takes a slight nudge to bring it down. The power of this effect can be seen in this YouTube video, where a University of British Columbia physics professor sets up 13 dominoes—including one that was more than three feet tall!
As far as the meaning of the word itself, a domino is simply an individual domino that can be played in the game. There are 28 dominoes in a standard set, but this number can be increased through the addition of more pips or dots. Each additional domino adds a third of a point to the total score, and this allows more players to join the game.
The word domino is also used to describe an entire game system that includes the pieces and rules. The most popular of these systems is double-nine, which has been around for over a century. Other variations on the game include a numbering scheme for the pips (which is called a “pip count”), which helps players keep track of their scores during play. The earliest sense of the word, however, was that of a garment—it might have been referring to a hooded cloak worn together with a mask during carnival season or at a masquerade.
Dominoes can be made in a wide variety of materials. The most common are bone, mother of pearl (MOP), ivory or ebony with contrasting black or white pips, but they can be made in stone; woods such as walnut or elm; metals such as brass or pewter; and even ceramic clay. The choice of materials gives the set a different look, but any type of domino will work for the game.