The Domino Effect in Plot

When you think of domino, your mind probably turns to a game played with a set of small blocks, generally 28 in number. Players place these on a flat surface, arranging them in a straight or curved line. Then the first one is flipped and the rest follow, falling in sequence. This is called a domino effect, and it can also be used in a more subtle way: when a single event triggers a chain reaction that changes an entire field or industry.

Domino can also refer to a set of values or a company’s culture. When a company embraces this idea, the results can be amazing. Domino’s CEO, Steve Doyle, has created a culture that prioritizes listening to customers, and this has paid off. He has implemented a new dress code, leadership training programs, and college recruiting systems that all focus on customer feedback. He has even encouraged employees to take time away from work to attend their own events, such as weddings and birthday parties for family members.

These actions have not only made Domino a better place to work, but they’ve helped attract top talent to the company. As a result, Domino has been named one of the top workplaces in the United States by the Detroit Free Press.

The Domino Effect in Plot

Whether you’re a plotter who creates detailed outlines ahead of time or a “pantser” who writes by the seat of your pants, writing fiction boils down to answering the question, “What happens next?” Considering how to use the domino effect will help you answer this crucial question and create a story that keeps readers engaged.

The domino effect is based on the physical principles of gravity and friction. When you set a domino upright, it stores energy as potential energy, and when you knock it over, much of this energy is converted to kinetic energy, which causes the remaining pieces to fall in a chain reaction. A domino’s position on the board affects its velocity, and the direction of the flow of energy.

Likewise, the way your character reacts to an event in your plot can influence what happens next and how other characters respond to that situation. This is particularly true if you’re writing a scene that runs counter to most reader’s ideas of logic. In such cases, you may need to provide the motivation and/or reason that would allow readers to “give your hero a pass” or at least keep liking him even though he’s doing something morally wrong. This is why it’s important to pay attention to the details of how a character reacts to each event in your plot. The more you do, the better your domino effect will be.