MANY questions here. Roudinesco is a good reference here, if very dense. Mike Lawrence has written some great (very readable) books on how to play specific card combinations in context of a given hand. The Rodwell files is also splendid, though arguably at a higher level. I might even offer some of the hands here as interesting examples of declarer play.
If you believe from the bidding or signals in the play that the queen lies over the jack (thus with your LHO or left hand opponent), then you might as well lead the queen, expecting a cover. Now, you are left with A9 opposite xx. There are two ways to play the combination that remains - winning the ace in the hopes the ten will drop on your left, or taking a second finesse with the 9 spot.
So you lead a low card from dummy, and a spot card appears on your right. Dropping a short ten on your left requires that the person with the queen had EXACTLY the holding of QT doubleton. Since your opponents started with 7 cards in the suit, you are essentially hoping the cards were initially distributed QT versus xxxxx. Such a specific holding would be rather rare, and far less likely than the possibility that RHO has ANY number of cards with the 10. The latter holding is essentially a 50-50 chance.
The above reasoning is not at all uncommon when you work out how best to play a card combination.
The combination of QT32 opposite K854 is one that is often guided by your knowledge about who might have the ace, as well as how many tricks you need in the play, and how much transportation you have between hands. Is this a case where you wish to maximize the probability of taking 3 tricks? Or is it a case where you wish to ensure that you never take fewer than 2 tricks? These two scenarios will favor different approaches in your play. You should know your goals when you play a hand. Is this IMPs or match-points?
For example, suppose you have 7 sure tricks outside of this suit in 3NT, and you have that holding in your contract at IMPs (teams) scoring. With plenty of stoppers in the other suits, you must play this holding for at least 2 tricks. Can you assure that you will ALWAYS take 2 tricks? This is a safety play situation.
Lead low towards the QT32. If RHO shows out on the first round, you will play the queen, then finesse LHO to ensure 2 tricks. If RHO plays a low card, you will play the queen. Next, play a low card towards the K8x. Go up with the king if LHO shows out or play the 8 if LHO follows low. You can ensure taking at least two tricks in the suit 100% of the time by careful play against any holding.
In another case, only 2 tricks in the suit may leave you a trick short. If this is trumps and they have two aces to win outside the trump suit, you cannot afford two trump losers in a 10 trick game. Again, there are many scenarios here to consider, too many to outline here. Most of them will involve deciding who to play for the ace, and possibly the jack.
The two-way finesse hand is as you describe it. If you can infer the hand with more likely length in that suit, then you will play that person for the queen. However, it still may be right to play for the queen in the short hand if they MUST have it from the bidding. For example, LHO shows up with 13 points, yet opened a 15-17 1NT and all other cards are accounted for. Even if they are know to have a doubleton, they should still have the queen.
Always use all the information you have available to bring to bear on a given hand. There are often clues to how to play a hand, hidden in the bidding, their signals, etc.