I'm using a plain text editor (Vim) to write a fiction piece (chapter book), and I'm wondering what markup languages others use for such a task? I'm looking for something exceedingly simple, it does not have to be powerful at all. Minimum requirements would be supporting basic styling like bold, italics, and underline; markup to indicate titled chapters, and scene splits within chapters; markup for footnotes/endnotes; and markup must be nestable.
But most importantly, the markup should not get in the way of my writing. In other words, I don't want to spend 25% of my keystrokes writing markup, and it should be easily readable even with the markup exposed. For instance, I find REStructured Text to be ugly and difficult to read smoothly.
My end goal is to "publish" to ePub and possibly latex. I'm currently using a very simple markup of my own devising, and a parser for it that generates both of those formats. However, it's a somewhat ugly markup (it uses curly braces which don't read smoothly) and my parser is rather clumsy, unable to handle things like paragraph breaks inside quotes.
So I can either improve on my own markup and rewrite my parser, or I can use something that already exists if anybody has any suggestions.
I should have guessed that this would be the end result: I've spent the past week or so redefining my own markup and rewriting a parser for it and a number of output converters for it. Thanks for all the good answers; I think you've pointed out the best markup languages that are available, but I'm finding that there just aren't any available that are well suited for writing novels, at least not for what I have in mind.
If anyone is interested or potentially interested in using this, let me know; I will most likely be putting this on bitbucket in the next few weeks as a set of python scripts and scons tools.