Designing a Domino Effect


A Domino effect can refer to either a series of actual collisions or the cause-and-effect links within systems such as global finance or politics. The term may also be used metaphorically to describe a sequence of events that, once set in motion, leads to unforeseen consequences—think the first domino falling, then the rest falling in an inevitable cascade. This concept of a domino effect is central to the way that Hevesh creates her mind-blowing domino setups. To design a domino track, she considers the theme or purpose of the installation, then brainstorms images or words that could be associated with those themes or concepts. Then, she starts to plan out the layout, creating a diagram that shows how she would like the dominoes to fall. Dominoes can be stacked in straight lines, curved lines, grids that form pictures when they fall, stacked walls, or even 3D structures.

As she works, Hevesh carefully considers the direction of each domino’s fall and whether it will be a double or single. She then checks that each domino has the matching end to connect it to its neighbors. She also looks at the value of each domino, which is indicated by its spots or pips. A domino with two matching pips is considered to be a double, while a domino with no pips is considered a blank.

Each domino has potential energy, which is the amount of force it can exert on its neighbor, based on its position and the distance between it and other dominoes. As the first domino falls, its potential energy is converted to kinetic energy, the energy of motion. This kinetic energy travels to the next domino, causing it to topple over as well. This chain reaction continues, as each domino’s kinetic energy pushes the next one over until all of the dominoes have fallen.

Hevesh’s creations aren’t just entertaining to watch; they can also teach us a lesson about how we can control our lives and achieve success. The process that Hevesh uses to build her amazing domino layouts mirrors the engineering-design process that she goes through when she creates a Rube Goldberg machine. “When you start with a big, complicated project, breaking it down into smaller steps and identifying all the variables can help make your finished product more manageable,” she says.

Whether you compose your manuscript off the cuff or spend time creating an outline, plotting your novel comes down to one question: What happens next? Thinking about the domino effect can help you plot your story in a more compelling manner. Often, your character’s actions will lead to a domino effect that runs counter to what most readers think is logical. To keep your readers engaged, you’ll need to give them the motivation or reason to let go of their preconceived notions and follow your hero’s path. Otherwise, your reader will abandon the plot and lose interest. So, don’t be afraid to break the rules and use a little domino magic in your writing!