You know, Jeanne, I still struggle with using exclamation marks when I need them. I will bend over backward not to put them in and then my proofreader/line editor will just stick them in and I’m like, “Oh, that’s okay then.”
I think it’s a combination of having read 80s romance novels with way too many of the things and Elmore Leonard’s advice that you get 2-3 exclamation marks per 100K words. 😉
I will say, I don’t use semicolons in dialogue at all. But that doesn’t mean everyone should do that–it’s just my personal rule. I do love my emdashes, though…
I see Cheryl mentioned never use exclamation marks and never uses semicolons. I do occasionally used exclamation marks for emphasis. And I love semicolons to combine what would otherwise be two sentences that are related. Sometimes, this seems like a better option than chopping it up into two sentences.
I’ve never been able to make a go of planning and outlining.