Frequently Asked Questions
Have any questions? They should be answered below, but if you think of anything we haven't answered feel free to email us.
"Why would I use your service when there are Myers-Briggs tests online that I can use instead?"
Online tests can give you insights, however they are automated online forms and not people. Our founder, Hayley, is training in Transactional Analysis to diploma level. If you talk to her (as opposed to using a Myers-Briggs test), she can answer you personally. Unlike a form she is live and present, and can give a personal response, answer any specific questions you might have, use her intuition in addition to her clinical therapeutic training, and provide you with after-care.
"Do you offer payment plans?"
We do indeed! Email us letting us know the rate of payment that would work for you and we can agree on a payment plan from there.
"I already know my character really well. What makes you think you could contribute anything to their development?"
You do indeed know your character best, and that's the secret ingredient in the work we do.
Our role is more subtle than straightforward character creation. We don't add anything to a character; what we do is facilitate you in developing your character in new ways that you may not have thought about. Request our character questionnaire and look at the type of questions we ask if you don't believe us.
Feel free to look at the below consultation transcripts too, where our founder, Hayley, helped Kiroku Bandit find a new dimension for his character, and helped Doubtful-Tea in organising the roles for the cast in a game.
As a final illustration for how we work, we would like to invite you to think about how beer is made. A brewmaster can put together the ingredients, but cannot personally turn the mixture into beer. It's the yeast that does that by fermenting, which turns the ingredients into beer. The brewmaster's role is vital to create the best conditions for the yeast to work, but all he or she can do is facilitate, not create. That's what we do with our clients.
However, sometimes we do other things too, such as compare our potential clients to fungi.
Or to put it another way, we have a map of how personalities work, but you are the one holding the compass for your own character!
"My character doesn't have a standard psychological make up. Can you still work on them?"
Yes, absolutely! Hayley's training is based on human psychology, however she is 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. In addition to that, your independence and autonomy are never as big of an issue as they are for a human toddler, and it is generally given that you are capable from before you begin to consider your place and potential in the world. All of this means that Hayley writes 'early independent' characters very differently. Here are a few dragon characters as examples in addition to Grukkal:
Robots, Androids, and Artificial Intelligences
Artificially intelligent beings function very differently from biological creatures. Hayley is thoroughly trained in understanding child development and this may or may not be relevant to your robotic character, but it does give her a reference point that she can start from. In addition to this, she has had a casual interest in Artificial Intelligence for a long time thanks to a good friend, so she knows not to anthropomorphisize AIs.
See Bombay's testimonial:
"I have a robot character which does bring about a few obstacles when attempting to analyze her past. Specifically her childhood. It's very difficult to develop a character that can be related to when it has no childhood or regular developmental stages. However, The Character Consultancy has done an outstanding job in helping me understand how to work through these issues as well as develop my character in a natural and professional manner."
For another example of Hayley's AI work see Sineon Kalter.
Characters That Were Never Children
We generally present backstories by tracking a character's life from birth to death and show how they developed over that time by using Erik Erikson's 8 Psychosocial Stages of Man. Erikson's model is a helpful way to capture both a character's full, cradle-to-grave timeline and their psychological make-up in one go. However, we can capture just their psychological make up without working that into a timeline, and this is helpful for characters who began life as adults. The beauty of Erikson's model is that is gives a wonderfully comprehensive overview of a character's psychological landscape and we can write that as happening 'now' rather than 'having developed at some point in the past'. Here's an example of how the end result can look:
Immortals / Ascended Beings
Beings that will never die, or have 'died' only to keep living, may not have to consider their mortality. We can explore the implications of this with you, taking into account whether your character still has a human psyche or whether their immortality expanded their mind. The terms of immortality can vary wildly from one character to the next so we will talk through those with you. Common issues include a newly increased ability to fulfil their lifetime ambitions, the risk of running out of things 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 image beside this paragraph is an example of a character who lived a life as a mortal and then became an immortal, with all of the new psychological development that entailed.
The work Hayley does often includes speculative psychology, and she is confident enough at her 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.
"I want to work with you but have writer's block. What's the point in working with you if I can't write anything?"
Writer's block is frustrating - that is certainly true. We have two answers for this.
Firstly, having a profile written can be profoundly helpful in shifting writer's block. Knowing more about your characters' history and the reasons that they do things can make it easier for you to visualise what will happen next in whatever story you write.
Secondly, we can explore your writer's block in a consultation. Unsure of whether that will be any help? Here's a transcript of a consultation where Hayley helped Mirath to shift his writer's block:
"My character is really messy. I'm kind of embarrassed to show them to you."
There's nothing to be ashamed of about a messy character. In fact, Hayley often works on commissions that are never completed because the client reaches a point where they get what they want from working with her before we make a final draft.
If you aren't interested in organising your character to the point of perfection, that's fine. She has worked with clients in the past who just wanted to make sense of contradictory backstories and straighten out time-lines, not end up with a write-up to present to others. If you want to work with her on resolving something about your character then we can start to write a No Frills with problem-solving in mind, or we can work together in a consultation. You tell us when you have gone as far as you want to go.
See economics bat's testimonial:
"Hey! I commissioned Hayley a while ago because I had some thorny characterization problems in some original fiction. I had a set of behaviors in mind and some tropes I wanted to incorporate, but I didn't have sophisticated thoughts on motivation. After we spoke for a while, I found some pretty fundamental contradictions in my original goals for the character, and over some consultations we fleshed out two mutually exclusive explanations that completely satisfied my original conditions. From this point I've been able to write quite a bit, and with Hayley's well-informed assistance I was able to move forward from imitation into using realistic psychology in my work."
"My character has an adult/NSFW/kink/fetish element. Will you feel comfortable working with them?"
We have no problem working with characters for whom sexuality is important. After all, sexuality is a part of a person or character's psychological make-up. However, we approach characters who are made to enact or represent fetishes and kinks more tentatively.
The reason for this is that in our experience, fetishistic characters usually require skewed psychology to work, and we work with psychological realism in mind. We will accommmodate that we well as we can. Hayley is always happy to talk about your character with you to see whether we can work with them.
The one area we are not willing to work within is sexuality that creates an abusive or dehumanising dynamic, if this dynamic is to be portrayed in a positive light or for comedic value. This is a reflection of the ethical values Hayley upholds as a trainee therapeutic counsellor.
Please note that this does not mean that Hayley, or any other character consultant at TCC, are uncomfortable with abusive stories. Hayley has, and continues to, work with trauma and abuse victims as part of her counselling caseload. Our limits about this are an effort to avoid glorifying or normalising abuse.