Planning a Domino Installation


Domino is a game that involves arranging pieces of a rectangular tile in long lines. When one of these dominoes is tipped, it causes the next one to fall and so on until all of the tiles in the line are pushed over in a beautiful cascade. Because of this, Domino is often associated with the “domino effect,” meaning that a small action can have big consequences.

A physics professor who specializes in domino explains that the force of gravity pulls a knocked-over domino toward Earth, which sends it crashing into the piece beneath it and setting off an entire chain reaction. This is why, when Hevesh creates her mind-blowing domino installations, she has to spend weeks planning the structure before executing it on a large scale. But she credits one physical phenomenon for her ability to create such incredible designs: domino effect.

When Hevesh begins planning for a new setup, she considers the theme or purpose of the installation before brainstorming images and words that might be related to it. She then outlines her ideas in a notebook and sketches out the general layout. Finally, she tests the dominoes she’ll use to make sure they can be used for what she wants them to do.

Hevesh works with a variety of domino sets, ranging from a double-six set that contains 28 tiles to the largest sets commercially available, which contain 190. Each domino has a line down its middle to divide it visually into two squares, each marked with an arrangement of dots or spots, called pips, on both sides. Most dominoes have a value of six pips, but some of them feature fewer or no pips.

Each time a domino falls, the energy it carries with it can be described as a pulse. Just like the wave of a firing neuron in your brain, this energy travels at the same speed and can only go in one direction—towards the end of the domino.

When Hevesh begins a new project, she first lays out the dominoes in the general layout that she wants them to take. She then begins placing individual tiles, ensuring that they touch the ends of the previous domino in line and that the exposed sides of the dominoes match (i.e., one’s touching one’s and two’s touching two’s).

Once the dominoes are arranged, Hevesh has to wait for the domino effect to kick in. The first domino may not fall immediately; it takes a little while for the friction between the pieces and the surface they’re on to overcome the inertia of the first domino. Then, as the momentum of the falling domino builds up, it eventually tips over.

Whether you’re a pantser or a planner when it comes to your writing, a clear understanding of the domino effect can help you keep your stories moving in the right direction. As you plan your story, be sure to consider the domino effect—because if your scenes aren’t building towards an exciting and logical conclusion, you might find yourself knocking over your readers’ interest.

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