The Art of Domino

Domino, a family of tile-based games, has roots that reach back to the 18th century. A domino is a rectangular tile with one side displaying an arrangement of dots or blanks, while the other is marked with numbers or letters. The dominoes in a set are all identical, and the back of each is either blank or has the same design as one of the other pieces. Each domino can be pushed onto adjacent tiles to create a chain reaction that causes all the other pieces to fall, and dominoes can be arranged in curved or straight lines as well as 3D structures like towers and pyramids.

Many games are played with a set of dominoes, often arranged in a circle or in a line, and each player has a turn in placing a domino. The first player to place a domino in a particular row wins that round, and the winner of a hand is determined by who has the most points or is the last to play a piece. Points are calculated by counting the number of pips on each opposing player’s remaining tiles (doubles count as two, and double-blank counts as zero) and added together until a target score is reached or the players have completed a specified number of rounds.

Lily Hevesh has been playing with dominoes since she was 9 years old and credits her grandparents’ classic 28-piece set for her obsession. Now at 20, she has more than 2 million YouTube subscribers and creates domino artwork for movies, TV shows, and events—including an album launch for Katy Perry. Hevesh and other domino artists construct elaborate sets of straight or curved lines, grids that form pictures when the dominoes fall, stacked walls, and even 3D structures like towers and pyramids.

The domino game requires a keen eye and timing. A single domino must be placed just so, or the entire cascade will fail. It’s the same with writing: a story needs to have enough detail to advance the plot but not so much that it feels bogged down or rushed, especially at moments of great discovery or at plot points.

For example, a scene that describes a car crash or rocket launch might be exciting if it was the only event of its kind in the narrative, but a series of scenes all showing the same thing can quickly become monotonous and lose the audience’s attention. The best way to prevent this is to think of each scene in a story as a domino.