I thought I didn’t have any reactions, so I didn’t join in, but (now that the threads have gone stale), I find I have two.
One is that I’m glad it’s okay to use “had” again. I understand that excessive use of modal verbs can clutter up a sentence, but anathematizing certain words is almost never good practice for a writer, especially when it’s done by people who don’t understand the dynamics of English very well (which seems to be the case for people who hand out bad writing advice– not coincidentally, I feel). Another group of words I’d like to see rehabilitated is “-ing” words: gerunds and present active participles. I saw this around a lot two or three years ago–the idea that constructions with “-ing” were “weak” (that Dread Word Which Must Not Be Applied to One’s Prose). That was when I realized that, no matter what someone wrote on the internet, someone else would take them seriously, a
chilling chillful moment indeed.
The other reaction is about the defining element of swashbuckling. Apparently the consensus at the ArmadilloCon panel was that a swashbuckler chooses his/her path of adventure, rather than being forced into it. Sherwood and others came up with counterexamples, but I thought there was some there there to the ArmadilloCon findings, though I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
Now, after some reading (a chunk of Count of Monte Cristo) and thinking, I’d say the defining element of the swashbuckler is style. If your hero shoots one of the King’s deer, carries it across his shoulders as he crashes a party of the Regent and plonks the dead beast down on the table in front of wicked Prince John and Sir Guy of Gisbourne, he’s a swashbuckler. If she puts on knightly armor and rides around in the Forest Broceliande in search of adventure and fame, she’s a swashbuckler. (In fact, she’s at least a couple of different swashbucklers.) If he challenges three different Musketeers to duel on the same day, then tosses aside his quarrels to fight alongside them against the Cardinal’s guards, he’s a swashbuckler.
Swashbucklers make a remarkable and memorable display of themselves and their fighting abilities. They may have magnanimous motives for doing so, but at some point they have to seize the spotlight and hold it deliberately. Brandoch Daha is always a swashbuckler; Aragorn almost never is (and never when he’s most interesting).
Anyway, these are my reflections in a swashed buckler; your dented shields may yield another set of images.