There appears to be three basic ways to approach adapting a book into a film. As with most things in life, the easiest way to illustrate this is through Stephen King film adaptations… The first, and most obvious method, is that of Frank Darabont with Rita Hayworth And The Shawshank Redemption (The Shawshank Redemption) or Rob Reiner with The Body (Stand By Me), which is to take a book and simply try to be as faithful as possible to the source material, leaving the dialogue and set pieces essentially in tact, making only minor changes for cinematic purposes. The second, and probably most sensible when tackling an 700+ page Stephen King novel, is that used by John Carpenter with Christine or David Cronenberg with The Dead Zone, which is to deliver a faithful, but condensed version of the book by building the screenplay around key scenes and concepts of the novel, removing repetitive and non-narrative scenes and sometimes combining characters. The final, and most interesting method, is to pick a few key scenes and ideas from a story and then build something completely new out of this handful of ideas, Stanley Kubrick did this to great success with The Shining (much to the ire of Stephen King who later readapted his novel into a considerably less interesting TV series), Brett Leonard did this to extraordinary WTF-ness with The Lawnmower Man and Stephen King himself did this and vast quantities of cocaine with Trucks (Maximum Overdrive).
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