In the 1947 movie The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, a ghostly sea captain dictates his sea-going adventures to a young widow who just bought his house. When he finally ends his tale of adventure, she puts down her pen and takes the manuscript to a publisher. It becomes a best-seller that provides ample income for the rest of her long life.
Writing isn’t like that.
Writing the novel is just the start. When you finish your first manuscript there is an overwhelming urge to send it to a publisher or agent immediately. Resist that temptation. Put it away. Forget about it. Do something else. After some time has passed, pull it out and read it critically. You’ll undoubtedly find situations or comments that no longer make sense, details – including names – that changed and a host of other details that need improvement. Editing takes time and a careful eye. Laurie will talk about editing, in more detail.
When you think it’s ready, send it to some friends to review. AND exchange critiques with other authors. Listen to their advice and decide what makes sense. Different people look at different things. Some look at structure and grammar. Others look at plot, while others will focus on the architectural details of your settings.
Those extra eyes on your manuscript may sometimes be painful, but the pain is temporary and worth it if it helps you craft a better story.