Domino is a small rectangular wood or plastic block, usually marked with dots that resemble those on dice. It is used to play games involving chains of numbers that must be added up in order to determine the winner. There are many different kinds of domino, and there are numerous games based on them. Some have the same name, but the rules vary from one to another.
A player takes a turn by drawing the number of tiles specified in the game being played and placing them in front of him. He then places a domino tile onto the table, positioning it so that its end points touch the open ends of existing tiles and thus establishes a domino chain. The player continues to play dominoes in his turn until he has completed the chain or the total is reached. The total can be determined either by counting the number of spots on the dominoes in a row, or by adding up all of the points on the entire chain.
The order of play is determined by the player holding the heaviest domino in his hand at the beginning of the game. The heaviest domino is the one with the most spots on its face. The dominoes can be arranged in the line of play either lengthwise or crosswise, depending on the game being played. Doubles, and only doubles, are played crosswise; singles are played lengthwise.
Sometimes no players are able to make another play, and the game is blocked. The winner of the last game may begin play in the next game, or if all players draw their hands but no one has a double, the player holding the heaviest double begins play. Alternatively, a player may “buy” the right to make the first play by paying the amount of money stipulated in the game’s rules.
This domino effect is often cited by political leaders to describe the way that one country’s actions can lead to other countries following suit, even if they are not directly involved. The United States, for example, supposedly used the domino theory to justify its strategy of forming tight bilateral alliances with Asian countries in order to control them militarily and foster their material dependence on the United States.
As a writer, I often use the domino image to illustrate how important it is to reread and edit your work after you’ve written it. If you write like a pantster, without preparing detailed outlines and using tools such as Scrivener to help you plot, you will likely end up with scenes that are off-balance or don’t have enough logical impact. Rereading and editing will help you weed out these scenes and improve your writing. This will also help you make sure your story is consistent and clear. For example, if your heroine uncovers a clue in one scene but the opposition doesn’t act on it in the next scene, this is a sign that you need to tweak your plot.