Bulleted lists in text files with Emacs

I often use emacs to keep notes, etc. in plain text files. One
of the formats I frequently use is the equivalent of a bulleted
list. I like to use the “auto-fill-mode” (Meta-q) to format
things nicely. However, my “bullets” (often, hyphens) sometimes
get misinterpreted. One failure mode is where they get treated
like any other character and folded into the paragraph. Another
is that emacs recognizes them as a “prefix” for a paragraph,
applying a bullet to the front of every line, even if one
bulleted item is long enough to wrap onto multiple lines.

Now, I haven’t figured out how to specify which behavior I want
with a command, but I found an explanation of what’s happening here.
Essentially, the first bulleted item needs to be multi-line to
teach emacs that bulleted items can sometimes be multi-line.

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