Most stories use some sort of compressed time: a story takes place over hours or days or years. Others take place without breaks or lapses. Slice of life stories are one example: Dorothy Parker’s “But the One on My Right” is an interior monologue during a boring dinner party. Some real-time stories consist of a single scene involving a revealing moment, or a series of scenes that occur in immediate succession. The technique can create compelling scenes, theater, short stories, and flash fiction.
If you need an idea for a real-time narrative, here are a few:
• This is a one-act stage play about a group of soldiers preparing for battle, trying to convince themselves they’ll defeat an army rumored to include dragons among its weapons.
• This is the first chapter of a mistaken identity romance novel in which the future lovers first meet but they don’t speak the same language or correctly figure out who each other is – and yet a spark ignites.
• This is a magical realism story in which a case of spontaneous human combustion is confused with political protest.
— Sue Burke