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How to Create Mind-Blowing Domino Installations


Domino is a small, thumb-sized block of wood or plastic, with one side bearing an arrangement of 0-6 “pips” or dots. It has a line or ridge in the middle to divide it visually into two equal squares. Each square contains an identity-bearing mark, either blank or identically patterned to the other, indicating its value. 28 such dominoes form a complete set.

Like playing cards, of which they are a variant, dominoes may be used in a variety of games involving blocking and scoring. In most such games, players try to lay dominoes down in a row or curved line. The first player to do so wins the game. Each subsequent player must choose a domino from the boneyard (a stack of unplayed dominoes) that has a value matching the one at either end of the already-formed line. If no such domino is available, the player must “knock” the table and pass play to the opponent.

Hevesh, who has more than 2 million YouTube subscribers, says she developed a passion for dominoes at age 9. Her grandparents had the classic 28-piece set, and she loved to arrange them in straight or curved lines and flick them over. She also began creating amazing domino installations.

When Hevesh begins creating one of her massive installations, she follows a version of the engineering-design process that she describes as similar to the domino-falling chain reaction. She starts by considering the theme or purpose of the installation and brainstorming images or words that might relate to it. She then tests individual sections of the installation to make sure they work as intended.

Then, she builds on those sections to create the larger arrangement. She adds 3-D dominoes first, followed by flat arrangements and finally lines of dominoes that connect the sections. Her mind-blowing setups are sometimes featured in movies and TV shows, and she has even created dominoes for events hosted by celebrities such as Katy Perry.

Much as Hevesh meticulously designs her domino installations, story writers must be careful to space scenes out properly if they are to create compelling cascades of plot and character development. A story that advances too slowly can bore readers, while one that rushes through plot points can feel shallow and rushed. The scenes in between must also be the right length, or they will seem too long at moments of great discovery and too short at plot points. This is a common problem for “pantsers,” who don’t use outlines or a writing tool such as Scrivener to plan out their plots ahead of time. To avoid this, they should write a few scene cards that help them weed out scenes that don’t advance the story or create tension. This will give them a better idea of the domino effect that they are trying to achieve.