So I was leaving my mother's house a couple of weeks ago and a blue balloon came blowing down the street and hit me in the boots. I picked it up and held it for a moment and thought 'well, this won't do, I'm sorry someone left you outside in the storm, why don't you come home with me?'
That same balloon is beside me now, though as balloons do it's lost most of its air and has a rather puckered look to it. All the same it's inside and warm and it gets played with, and that, I have to imagine, is better to a balloon than being hit by a car.
And my logical brain is like "Megan...that balloon is a hunk of plastic with air in it, it doesn't have opinions on what's better". And yet the idea of throwing it out lights this angry fire in my chest and I just refuse. It's like a pet, I rescued it, I'm taking care of it.
I've formed similar attachments to objects I've procured in antique stories, found lying around outside, and been given as gifts. I certainly end up with that kind of attachment to books. Waking up in the middle of the night in tears because of something that happened to a character is a regular occurrence for me.
Anyway what I'm getting at is, this is how the human brain works. We'll bond with anything. We're naturally pack creatures, our brains like it. So when you're writing...your reader wants to like your characters. They picked up this book because they want to like the person they're reading about. No matter how cynical they're acting about it, they secretly want to be entertained, to like this person.
Just remember you're not working against the grain.
Just like my balloon, or the roomba someone taped a knife to, or the volleyball in Castaway, humans want to put a face on things. And as a writer, you're facilitating that. As an RPer, you're facilitating that. The nature of the human mind has done half the work for you, so go forth with no fear.
Your assignment for the...well let's not pretend I hand out assignments with any sort of regularity. Suffice to say, your assignment is:
Write a character that isn't any kind of human. Write a character that wouldn't ordinarily have a face. Write a character who is a car, or a balloon, or a box for all I care, just personify an inanimate object.
Megan R. Miller