Historical present tense can be used a little differently in fiction, and effectively. This works quite well in first-person narratives. To distinguish this between full present tense narration and full past tense narration, I suggest defining two types of events:
1) incidental events that happen, end, and are observed. Since one can only remark on an incidental event after it occurs, observation implies that the event has already happened, so it is now in the narrator's past, and takes the past tense.
2) Ongoing conditions. 'Ongoing' implies the observed condition is still happening and still exists, which can include the narrator's present location on the narrative timeline, so then takes the present tense.
One can have these in the same paragraph without that being an improper shift of tense. Example:
My visitor stepped forward and placed her little bottom precisely in a chair. She seems like a smart lady, speaks the King's English, carries herself well.
The narrator is describing an experience as it happens to him, as he observes it.
'Stepping and sitting' are incidental events. IOW, they happen and they're over, and the narrator comments on them, after. So, his comment refers to the immediate past, and it takes the past tense. But his observation of her nature is of an ongoing event. She seems smart to him, which is ongoing, happening 'now', and continuing, so it takes present tense.
This is much preferred to full present tense. If the narrator had said "My visitor steps forward and places her little bottom precisely in a chair", that might sound unnatural, weird, and awkward, and that could likely be the reason that present tense prose rarely finds an audience.
I also prefer it to full past tense. It places the reader right there in the room at the time the scene occurs, rather than them hearing about it later. The incidental events have 'just happened' in the immediate past, so they still provide the psychological feeling of the scene happening 'now' to both the narrator and the reader, and the reader can identify directly with the protagonist this way, mirror neurons firing strongly.
But it's tricky to do. We write in past tense naturally, but to do this you must look at every item in a scene and determine if it is an incidental event or an ongoing condition, and tense accordingly. This is writing tense by using a scalpel to craft it rather than a broadsword. But it works.
It is likely not recommended to extend this to flashbacks. A narrator telling the reader about something that obviously happened earlier (in reference to where the narrator is currently in the timeline) probably would be less confusing to that reader if it remains in past tense. But for moments or scenes that are happening to the narrator 'now', it makes a lot of sense. And not using it in the flashbacks makes both the 'present' stand out in the narrative for the reader, as well as the 'past' stand out in what is considered the narrator's past, so this can provide contrast and broaden the prose.