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My three years of therapeutic training help me clarify extra details with you. I'll give you an example of a character I've added to without stepping on my client's toes.
This character's name is Derry. His creator, Deroki, approached me for a commission and said he didn't have much detail for me about his character except that Derry was "a big ball of anger".
Now, anger comes in all sorts of levels of intensity and be expressed in many different ways, so that meant I knew what to ask Deroki to tease out what Derry's particular expression of anger looked like. For instance, anger can be expressed in these levels of increasing intensity:
A character might demonstrate these - or not - for a whole host of reasons, so I asked the appropriate questions, and paid attention to his answers, to find out what the correct profile for Derry in each level was.
In addition to that, anger that has its origin in different life stages is going to look different. Here are some examples using the life stages described in Erik Erikson's 8 Stages of Man:
Anger from here is a wordless, intolerable, flailing rage, and it's not easily pacified.
Anger from here is not much more tolerable than anger from infancy but has a slightly better of agency, since toddlers have some muscular control which influences their feeling of ability to influence their situation.
Anger coming from here has a more focused energy and direction but is also likely to be callous and cruel.
A person who had problems in this stage but not in the ones before is likely to be far more moderated in their expression of anger, but it'll still be painful and deeply felt because disruption in this life stage means they feel useless or incapable.
We pretty much revisit all of the above when we have problems as teenagers. Because of this, residual teen anger tends to give a kind of double-layered quality to peoples' problems.
If a person had a good childhood it's unlikely they'll have severe anger problems as a result of anything that happens in this life stage. It's not impossible, though. Young adulthood anger can come from being isolated or not allowed to contribute to society.
This is where people start to lose their sense of agency, not necessarily because of their own failings but because the next generation is all grown up and ready to make their own mark on the world, and they need the middle-agers' support. I'm sure you've met people who resent being in that situation.
Anger at the end of one's life is a terrible thing, mainly because by this time it's too late to do much about it. Anger here can be expressed as despair for this very reason.
Then there's the question of whether the character's anger is coming from a position of "I'm better than you (therefore you're scum and I despise you)", "You're better than me (and I hate you for it)", or "I'm no good and neither are you". And the specifics of how that character switches between those three positions.
That's why I offer this service. When I received Deroki's questionnaire answers about Derry, I found out a lot more about Derry that Deroki hadn't uncovered for himself because he doesn't have the training I do. For him, finding these things out was a joy and he was very eager to tell me so.
Yes, absolutely! My training is based on human psychology, however I am confident enough with it to be able to depart from it if needed. Common departures include:
Dragons, and anything else that hatched out of an egg, are capable of moving under their own power, finding at least some of their own food, hiding from danger, and perhaps more. This means that they never went through a stage where they were completely dependant on any other individual, like a human infant is with its mother. This has implications for their psychological development. If you have never been helpless, your own ability to trust in your own ability to keep yourself safe and provide for yourself is that much greater.
Immortals / Ascended Beings
Beings that will never die, or have 'died' only to keep living, will either never have to face thoughts of their own mortality. I can explore the implications of this with you, taking into account whether your character still has a relatively human psyche or whether their immortality is accompanied by an expanded, not-human-any-more mind. The terms of immortality can vary wildly from one character to the next so I'll talk through those with you. Common issues include their lifetime ambitions and what they wish to do with an unlimited time-frame or the futility of fulfilling their ambitions when they will likely outlive the fruits of their labours.
The work I do often includes speculative psychology, and I am confident enough at my current level of knowledge and training to be able to speculate with you and find alternatives that suit your character, their species, or their culture.
Would you like a payment plan? Contact me on thecharacterconsultancy
@gmail.com suggesting a rate of payment that works for you and we can work from there.
I structure my analyses so that you can get a quick idea of who the character is just by looking at the first 50 to 100 words of the analysis, like so:
Name: Youko (in the current day; born Damian Tzavaras)
Age: 42 years, and "on the upper side of young"
Height: 5ft 9in
Weight: Not given
Home: The Conjured Isles
Quote: "Do what you love, and you'll never work a day in your life. So I don't do what I don't love doing. Not anymore."
Youko is a human from the Dungeons & Dragons setting. He is the son of two social climber parents who cared more about status than love and affection, but was raised by a nursemaid who was far kinder. He is a loving and friendly character who loves the arts in all their forms, and appreciates integrity and kindness in others
There is clearly much more to know about Youko, but this gives you a rough idea of who he is. I make image-based versions of the No Frills, called Infographics, which include as many images of your character as you like, but I aim to have a picture with each No Frills wherever I can, to give you an idea of the look of a character.
Online tests can give you insights, however they are automated online forms and not people. What I bring to the table is that if you talk to me (as opposed to using a Myers-Briggs test), I can answer you personally. Unlike a form I'm live and present, and can give a personal response, answer any specific questions you might have, use my intuition in addition to training, and provide after-care.
I have helped to develop several characters from a very early stage in their development, and the clients I worked with on these projects found my help to be invaluable.
In addition to psychotherapeutic training (which gives me detailed, technical knowledge of how personalities work and how a character's interpersonal relationships are likely to play out), I also have counselling training. This allows me to talk to you without imposing my own ideas about your character, to help you make sense of the early ideas you have for your character and how they fit together.
You do indeed know your character best, and that's the secret ingredient in the write-ups I make.
My role is more subtle than straightforward character creation. I don't add anything to a character; what I do is facilitate you in developing your character in new ways that you may not have thought about.
Think of it in the same way as how beer is made. A brewer can put together the ingredients, but cannot personally make beer. It's only the yeast that can ferment and turn the ingredients into beer. The brewer's role is vital in creating the best conditions for the yeast to work its magic, but all he or she can do is facilitate, not create. That's what I do with my clients.
However, sometimes I do other things too, such as compare my potential clients to fungi.
If that's what you think, you might want to read the answer to the previous question in this FAQ list, my fun guy!
What I offer is structured knowledge about how personalities and relationships work. I'm an advanced trainee psychotherapist, and this gives me lots of ways to define and describe personality traits and behavioural patterns. When we work together on your character, I facilitate you finding out more detail about your character by sharing my knowledge with you.
In short, I have a map of how personalities work, but you are the one holding the compass!
This is one of the reasons I make the No Frills sheets. In addition to being searchable and easy to copy-paste, they can also be updated. No matter what you order from me, it will be based on a No Frills, as that is the basis for everything I make.
So if you have ordered from me but your No Frills is now out of date, feel free to update it.
You may also be interested to know that I can make a specific type of No Frills with empty boxes for you to fill in extra information, if desired. Here's an example:
You can always ask me not to upload your finished No Frills. What kind of artist would I be if I wasn't prepared to listen to my customers' wishes?
If it helps, as a trainee therapist I have a keen awareness of (and formal training in) confidentiality. If you don't want your finished sheet to be made public, that is completely up to you.
I can also make sheets and videos with extra art.
A word about art: I'm not much of an artist myself, so the art you see on my Infographics and videos are in fact by a variety of different artists. I always ask for the artists' permission before using their art.
Sometimes more art is available, sometimes less. When less is available (or if you just fancy having some new, custom art) I offer an artist find service. You Pay What You Want plus a small fee and I'll find you an artist who is available and charges within your budget.
That's a hard one for me to help you with - but it would be a shame for you not to have any. Feel free to discuss with me which characters have in mind. Also, ask me about bulk discounts.
The vast majority of my clients have reported that they had a world of fun designing their characters with me. I aim to make the design of your character a deeply enjoyable experience!
But don't just take my word for it. Here's what some of my past clients have had to say about the experience of working on their characters with me:
"After having Hayley recommended to me, I decided to give her service a try, for a bit of fun and to help develop my character a bit more deeply. I ended up learning things about the character even I didn't know! She does a great job developing characters while sticking to the essence of what you want out of them, giving them depth without remaking anything about them. No regrets!"
ArixO, about Arix Ordragc
"I requested a reference sheet from The Character Consultancy because it was something I had not seen offered before: an offer to analyze my character in various ways based on supplied questions. It's interesting to see Tau's life explained through the eyes of someone well-versed in character nuance!
tigertau, about Tau Switchblade
Why not read more about what my clients have to say about me on my testimonials page?
I have worked with several customers whose first language is not English. See my testimonials.
I can take a lot out of a surprisingly small amount of information. As an example, you might want to try reading about how I analysed Derry (see the first question on this FAQ).
But even Derry was well-defined compared to Jeffra Cox. This is all Hale-Art was able to tell me about him:
"Born into nobility, Jeffra underwent extensive training for knighthood and was the top of his class by a considerable margin. He could not take the pressure, however, and became the leader of a terrifyingly strong bandit clan. He has the equipment and skills of a top tier knight after decades of continued practice. The next step for him is an assault on the capitol itself for a coup."
What I mainly picked out of this was that Jeffra pushed himself so hard that he exhausted himself. This means that it's unlikely he worked hard purely for the sake of being competitive, or for greed (a successful knight could become very rich indeed). We do not exhaust ourselves to the extent he did for our own sake; we do it to appease somebody else.
So we know that Jeffra had somebody he had to please, and that they would not be pleased by a mediocre effort. This could have been a person, but my training and reading the timing of Jeffra's exhaustion tell me something else: that he was appeasing not a person, but a projection of a person. In Transactional Analysis we call this an 'introject' - a working model of somebody who demanded a lot of us once upon a time, which we keep in our heads.
Adults are independent - that's what defines adulthood. They can walk away from anything that doesn't benefit them or actively does them harm (theoretically, at least). Jeffra kept on with the appeasement behaviours as an adult. It couldn't have been a person who was causing it, so it could only have been an introject.
The other main snippet of information I get from Hale-Art's blurb is that Jeffra trained as a knight. A half-hour of research on traditional knight training made it clear to me that Jeffra would have been on this career path since he was little, and that's when introjects are usually planted.
And hey presto: I had the basic outline of the drama of Jeffra's life! Other details slotted in quite easily after that. Details of the different stages of knighthood training, specific features of the stages of growing up, and the implications of a personality type that responds to introjects by striving rather than cowering did the rest.
The questionnaire takes around an hour to complete, and I usually send a first draft so that you can tell me if anything needs to be changed. Usually there are questions in the first draft so these will take a little longer to answer. You are welcome to decline to see a draft, in which case the first draft will be the final product.
I aim to send you your first draft within a week of you sending me payment and the finished questionnaire. After that, I strive to send you your subsequent drafts within a week of you sending your question answers and requested tweaks to me. Usually the write-up takes three or four drafts before it is complete, so the basic, written analysis can take around a month.
An Infographic takes around 3 hours longer.
A video can take around 3 weeks to complete.
That's okay! Some of my customers have had messy character backstories, and have used their time with me to straighten out time-lines, and ensure that events they wanted to be in the story remained present and made sense.
If you don't think you can organise them all the way, that's fine too. Sometimes making progress towards a well-organised character is enough, without going all the way.