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There is only one example I can think of, but I am looking for an alternative.

Scene is a character deciding that a discussion isn’t going towards the conclusion he is looking for, so he suddenly decides to “switch gears.”

“Change tactics” could also apply but it is not what I’m looking for.

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    What don't you like about "switch gears" and "change tactics"? What qualities are you looking for in the phrase? Jul 21 at 10:56
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    If you'll accept a noun: A word for when somebody deflects from a conversation?
    – Laurel
    Jul 21 at 11:13
  • Are you looking to add this to the script as a dialogue explanation? Like this: "He will not attend that party!". (growling). Please explain your question better.
    – Lambie
    Jul 21 at 15:15

3 Answers 3

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Some suggestions:

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You appear to be looking for a Path metaphor. "Changing the subject" is usually interpreted as changing the direction of a conversation. So any term that indicates motion along a designated Path will be interpreted that way.

You see it in taking a tack, which means altering the direction of a ship by maneuvering the sails, switching/shifting gears, which means altering the speed of a machine, often preparatory to altering direction, and in deflecting, which usually refers to the conversation as moving along a channel or road.

Get the metaphor set up in your mind and then use phrases that it suggests.
Maybe reading Lakoff and Johnson would be a good idea, too.

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Pivot works well in this context. From Merriam Webster

4: a usually marked change

especially : an adjustment or modification made (as to a product, service, or strategy) in order to adapt or improve

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