Bruce Sterling publishes a list of Lovecraft’s undeveloped story ideas:
96 Unknown fires seen across the hills at night.
97 Blind fear of a certain woodland hollow where streams writhe among crooked roots, and where on a buried altar terrible sacrifices have occur’d — Phosphorescence of dead trees. Ground bubbles.
98 Hideous old house on steep city hillside—Bowen St.—beckons in the night—black windows—horror unnam’d—cold touch and voice—the welcome of the dead.
Sterling doesn’t discuss the origin of the list, but all 221 entries seem distinctly Lovecraftian. Most of them don’t suggest plots per se, but rather focus on strange words or images. That makes sense for Lovecraft, who was never known for his characters, but rather his mood-making.
There’s not a single line of dialogue to be found. If future historians dug through my notebooks, that’s mostly what they’d find: bits of speech with very little context. Some of those lines are particular to what I’m writing at the moment, but many float untethered to any specific project.
I find myself scribbling down random ideas less now than I used to. Some of that is because of Evernote, which I use as my all-purpose in-box. My Twitter feed also soaks up a lot of these thoughts, at least the ones that can be rewritten to fit in 140 characters.