Write Like a Dominoes Artist

When a single domino is tipped ever so slightly, it sets off a chain reaction that causes all the rest to fall. This is what’s known as the domino effect, and it is one of the most exciting things about the game. Seeing all those thousands of individual pieces tumble down at once is hypnotic. As writers, we often try to mimic the effect in our stories. But how? By thinking about each scene as a domino.

A domino is a rectangular tile with a number of pips, or spots, on it. Each of these pips represents a number that relates to the placement of the tile in a set. A domino is normally twice as long as it is wide, and its pips are either raised or inlaid in a way that makes them easy to read. Most modern dominoes are made of a polymer, although some are made from natural materials such as bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory, or a dark wood like ebony. Some dominoes have a top half that is thicker than the lower part, which helps give them a more authentic feel.

In her work, Hevesh creates incredibly intricate and massive domino setups that take several nail-biting minutes to fall. Creating such a set requires many skills, but the most important is physics. She has worked on projects involving hundreds of thousands of dominoes, and she holds a Guinness World Record for a circular arrangement of 76,017 dominoes. Her largest installations require as many as 3,000 dominoes per foot of track.

When Hevesh begins planning her mind-blowing domino designs, she considers a variety of factors including what type of track she wants and what kind of effect she hopes to achieve. She then draws out a plan on a piece of paper, which might include a line of dominoes that form a picture or stacked walls, a grid that is shaped to form an image when it falls, or 3D structures such as towers and pyramids.

Once she has her plan in place, Hevesh works to optimize the track using the laws of physics. She starts with a base and then places each domino along the path she has drawn. She also creates arrows to show the direction each domino will travel, and she calculates how much energy it will take for each domino to reach its end.

As a final step, she checks her work with a computer program that determines whether the layout will be stable. If the program flags a problem, she corrects it. Then she prepares to watch her creation come to life before an audience of fascinated fans.