The focus of my editorial work will be on these areas:
Character development. As Anne Perry says, "If the average reader is not involved in the life of the characters, he will stop after a chapter or two at the best." I focus on helping you build realistic yet fascinating and empathetic characters, people the reader wants to accompany over the course of the novel. Also, I help you avoid pitfalls. For example, there are numerous things your protagonist must not do if you want your novel published, such as lie to the reader. So if you've made mistakes--and there are plenty of mistakes to be made--I'll flag them for you, and suggest corrections. The Baltimore Sun has said that my characters "reveal depth of passion as well as emotion."
Proper pace. The rate which the novel unfolds is called pace. Too slow, and the novel stalls. Too fast, and the novel gains a strobe light aspect. Regarding my knowledge of pace, Great Britain's Guardian has said, "Thayer writes with economy, pace and attack." Kirkus Reviews has said I have "expert pacing."
Compelling dialogue: Writing solid dialogue is tricky. It should sound like people talking, but not too much like people talking. And dialogue in fiction should begin in the middle of the conversation, not at the beginning, a difficult skill to master for many writers.
Story structure: Successful novels have a certain proven structure. Some things must happen in the beginning, some things in the middle, and some things at the end. The plot arcs in a certain way, subplots work in a certain way, and peaks and valleys must be placed well. Sometimes there's a scene missing, sometimes there's a scene that isn't needed, and sometimes the scenes need to be re-organized. The Houston Post has said that I write "an exceptionally tight plot," and the Seattle Times has said that my plotting is "focused and energetic."
Voice: Voice is your way of crafting sentences, your way with words, and it is often distinctive. But sometimes authors unknowingly change voices. To overstate the case: midway through the novel Scarlett O'Hara should not become Dorothy Parker, and Obi Wan Kenobi should not begin to sound like Adam Sandler. I detect and correct changes in voice, while retaining your unique voice.
Points of view: Getting the right POV--which character's eyes are seeing the events--can be difficult. Have you begun your novel with a camera eye POV then inadvertently switched to an omniscient POV or a single-character POV? Or have you switched POVs too many times, which can be dizzying to the reader?
Vivid writing: If you've done too much telling rather than showing, I'll catch it. I'll help with the rhythm and musicality of your sentences, and the use of the more evocative words. I'll spot the clunky language that occasionally escapes us all, such as mangled metaphors, clichés, illogical modifiers, empty phrases, and bad analogies. Kirkus Reviews has said I have a "reputation as an elegant stylist."
Scene construction: There are right ways and wrong ways to develop a scene. For example, one of the most common errors is a scene that begins too early. An old saying: "A scene should begin when the blood is already on the floor."
Maintaining suspense: A novel must demand that the reader turn to the next page to discover what's there, and it must do so page after page. Suspense--the resolution of earlier-established conflict--is critical for all fiction genres, from romance to women's fiction to sci fi to thrillers to literary fiction. Sometimes, though, in the long effort at crafting the novel, the writer lets the suspense lag. The middle 100 pages of a novel are particularly susceptible to this. An editor's fresh eye will spot parts that may be too slow or uninteresting. The Copley New Service has said, "Thayer's writing keeps the reader on edge from the beginning."
Problems with setting: The most common problems I see with a novel's setting are over-describing, the use of dull settings, and the failure to break up the setting's description. If setting isn't done right, the manuscript suffers from "flip pages," to use David Baldacci's term. Kirkus Reviews has said that I have "near masterful control of detail and setting."
Other aspects: I'll look for problems involving coincidence, breaking the fourth wall, foreshadowing, back-story, flashbacks, red herrings, loose ends, and many others.